You Cannot Be Christian and Support Torture


You Cannot Be Christian and Support Torture
Brian Zahnd

You cannot be Christian and support torture. I want to be utterly explicit on this point. There is no possibility of compromise. The support of torture is off the table for a Christian. I suppose you can be some version of a “patriot” and support the use of torture, but you cannot be any version of Christian and support torture. So choose one: A torture-endorsing patriot or a Jesus-following Christian. But don’t lie to yourself that you can be both. You cannot.

(Clearly you do not have to be a Christian to reject the barbarism of torture, you simply need to be a humane person. But to be a Christian absolutely requires you to reject the use of torture.)

I remember when Pew Research released their findings in 2009 revealing that six out of ten white evangelicals supported the use of torture on suspected terrorists. (Patton Dodd talks about that here.) The survey stunned me. I spoke about it from the pulpit in 2009 and have continued to do so. I said it then and I’m saying it again today: You cannot support the use of torture and claim to be a follower of Jesus.

Any thoughtful person, no matter their religion or non-religion, knows that you cannot support torturing people and still claim to be a follower of the one who commanded his disciples to love their enemies. The only way around this is to invent a false Jesus who supports the use of torture. (The Biblical term for this invented false Jesus is “antichrist.”)

Those who argue for the use of torture do so because they are convinced it is pragmatic for national security. But Christians are not called to be pragmatists or even safe. Christians are called by Jesus to imitate a God who is kind and merciful to the wicked.

“Love your enemies! Do good to them.…and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. Be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” –Jesus (Luke 6:35, 36)

I don’t know of a greater indictment against American evangelicalism than the fact that a majority of its adherents actually admit they support the use of illegal torture on suspected terrorists! The release of that survey in 2009 was the point where I stopped self-identifying as an evangelical. Today I’m not quite sure what brand of Christian you should categorize me as, but it’s not that!

Evangelical support of torture is what we might call an “eruption of the real.” It’s a horrifying moment of unintended truth-telling where we discover that allegiance to national self-interest trumps allegiance to Jesus Christ. Now with the release of the Senate’s report of the C.I.A.’s use of torture I’m calling on American evangelicals to stop playing games and decide if they are going to be Christian or not — to decide if they are going to follow Jesus Christ or Dick Cheney.*

(* I say this as one who shared the platform with Dick Cheney at a political rally in 2004. I tell this story and my subsequent renunciation of a politicized faith in Beauty Will Save the World.)

Those who call themselves Christian are followers of one who was tortured and killed by a superpower supremely committed to its own security. The Roman governor Pilate condemned Jesus to torture and execution by acting in the interests of the Pax Romana. The Roman Empire could not tolerate a Galilean preacher claiming to be the King of the Jews. Rome called it insurrection and the penalty was crucifixion. So Jesus was tortured to death. But when God raised him on the third day, Jesus and his message of enemy-love and radical forgiveness were vindicated. The cross of Christ forever shames torture as a means for achieving “freedom” and “security.” Torture does not lead to freedom and security. Torture is demonic and it leads to hell.

Jesus was a victim of torture. He was tortured to death. But Jesus not only died on a cross, he called his disciples to take up their cross and follow him! Why? Why does Jesus call his followers to carry an instrument of torture? To torture enemies? Of course not! We take up our cross because in following Jesus we are prepared to choose suffering over security. Does this sound strange to you? This is Christianity!

The constant rival to the kingdom of Christ is empire, and the supreme obsession of empire is security. Empires always justify their violence in the name of security. Christians on the other hand make no claim to security. We are not safe. We have willingly embarked upon the risk of following Jesus, knowing full well that such a venture may lead to suffering and death.

For three hundred years everyone knew that it was dangerous to be a Christian, and therefore knew what it was to be a Christian. Then things changed and Christendom was born. Christendom was the subordination of Christianity to the sovereignty of empire. More to the point, Christendom was an attempt to invent a risk-free Christianity. And it was a “success.” But it came at a price. The price was that no one quite knew anymore what it meant to be a Christian. How can you be a Christian when there is no risk? How can you take up your cross and follow Jesus if there’s no danger of suffering? Removing all risk makes Christianity incomprehensible.

And apparently Christianity has become so incomprehensible in the security state of America that millions of evangelicals think they can be Christian and support torture. But they cannot.

These evangelicals have reached a crisis of decision. They can choose security. They can choose to endorse torture in the name of security. But to do so is to renounce the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Torture-endorsing Christians either need to change their mind or they need to change their name.


P.S. I have slightly edited the title and a couple of sentences. I took out a single letter. “You Cannot Be A Christian and Support Torture” is now “You Cannot Be Christian and Support Torture.” I took out the “a”. Evangelicalism has placed nearly all the emphasis on becoming a Christian, which ends up as “ticket to heaven” Christianity. But the emphasis needs to be on becoming Christian (Christlike). Can you support torture and go to heaven? Maybe. Can you support torture and be Christlike? No.

(The artwork is Christ Mocked by Soldiers by George Rouault.)

  • pwitjen

    Eternal punishment? Could that be classified as torture?

  • ERSchindler

    Absolutely. Which is why we all need to rethink the traditional view of hell.

  • Ed

    You are so full of shit Brian. You want the perks of safety from harm in America but not the means. This is a new low for you. You have no right to tell anyone’s they’re not a Christian.

  • No matter how well-intentioned, “You cannot be a Christian and support torture” translates into “Jesus plus”.

  • Jim L.

    Pastor, you are right. It is shameful that Christians could even entertain the thought that torture is good.

  • Phil Stout

    Like you, Brian, I was horrified at the 2009 data that showed those most likely to support the use of torture were white evangelicals. What meaning do the terms “evangelical” and “Christian” have if those who use them don’t see the need to follow the way of Jesus?

  • thushjz

    You also cannot be a Christian and support the holocaust of abortion. oops

  • thushjz

    Ask Jesus about hell, he disagrees with you…

  • Dirtbeard

    i too cringe when someone describes why someone else cannot be a christian. that said, i understand bz’s point. though his rhetoric is overly harsh, his point remains and should be tken to heart… supporting torture is about as contrary to christ following as one can get.

  • Rick Smith

    Perhaps if we, as Americans and “Christians”, were a little less ready to harm our brothers and sisters of the world, they would not be “terrorist” trying to harm us. Ed, I am reminded of Jesus saying to “turn the other cheek” and I don’t think that he was in any way advocating for the torture of another human being. If we were really worried about the safety of our fellow Americans we would spend a bit more time worrying about the safety of our fellow member of the human race. We are quick to preach “Safety for America” while ignoring or hating people living in poverty, homeless, the prisoner, etc. And Ed, safety by any means is not safety at all, I think that is called “fear”.

  • Mr. Law

    Is it just me or is there no positive comments on Evangelicals from any leaders? I am sure there are. But “Evangelicals” seem to be the butt of a lot of criticism, often harsh. It is the same with “Fundamentalists.” Both groups have their problems, but there are things to admire in both for I know some personally, and they are wonderful people I love. In the same vein, I do not see much criticism of “liberal” or “progressive” Christianity. Again, I am sure it is out there, but I do not see much of it in the main.

  • Oops what? Zahnd doesn’t support abortion.

  • Taco

    Alright, first of all the entire article is an argument against a giant straw man. The author doesn’t even bother to link the pew article which is the cornerstone of his article, so i hunted it down, and here it is:…/the-religious-dimensions-of…/

    Now, Mr. Zahnd says ” six out of ten white evangelicals supported the use of torture on suspected terrorists.” and this is dubious at best. The survey itself isn’t binary at all, rather its graduated. It asked respondents if they thought torture against suspected terrorists could be justified never, rarely, sometimes, or often. Mr. Zahnd simply says that people who thought torture could be justified sometimes or often “supported the use of torture against suspected terrorists.”

    There are two small but important divergences between what Mr. Zahnd says in his article and the truth. First of all is the implication that “I think torture can sometimes be justified” is equivalent to “i support the use of torture on suspected terrorists.” I hope you can spot the difference. If not, an analogy would be to say that the belief that abortion is sometimes morally acceptable is the same thing as “supporting” abortion. These are not the same. Second of all imagine a white evangelical on a phone call with a surveryor who says to himself, “y’know, i could imagine at least one situation in which torture is acceptable, like what if terrorists had my daughter hostage and the only way to save her was to torture the accomplices of the kidnappers. yes, in that case torture would be ok. therefore, I guess I think that torturing terrorists can *SOMETIMES* be justified.” Mr. Zahnd would have you think that this person “supports” torture.

    The idea that 60% of white evangelicals “supports torture” is silly. If Mr. Zahnd were intellectually honest and not a slandering hack, he would acknowledge this. But then he wouldnt have a clickbait article, would he?

    But wait, I’m not done.

    Even if this initial premise was accepted without skepticism, (which again, Mr. Zahnd hopes you will be doing, otherwise he would actually link to the data in question), the entire argument he makes based on that premise is merely argument by assertion. he says ” Any thoughtful person, no matter their religion or non-religion, knows that you cannot support torturing people and still claim to be a follower of the one who commanded his disciples to love their enemies. ” You see, to Mr. Zahnd, his argument is so sound, that only thoughtless rubes like myself would even question it. The mere fact that Jesus says “love your enemies” is the only evidence he presents in defense of this assertion. Of course, unless Mr. Zahnd is a pacifist, (and even if he is not, I think he would at least concede that some thoughtful Christians are not pacifists) he must implicitly accept the notion that love of your enemy does not necessarily preclude violence against your enemy. And he doesn’t even bother to explain away this contradiction. Because he’s a hack.

    But wait, I’m still not done.

    Now we have to have a discussion about this “eruption of the real.”. Because here in the reality in which I live, there is some nuance between torture and interrogation. These two concepts have quite a bit of overlap. Waterboarding, for example, was not held to be torture, but rather a form of enhanced interrogation. You might disagree, but thats why theres so much grey area here. Other things which might fall in the grey area between interrogation and torture include sleep deprivation, administration of so-called truth serums, forcing prisoners to stand for long durations, etc. These are the types of techniques used by the Bush administration, which I would wager were what white evangelicals are saying they support. It doesn’t make them bad people, or not “real” Christians to support forms of interrogation which Mr. Zahnd and others call torture, but are not what passes for torture in the common parlance.

    But wait, there’s more.

    Mr. Zahnd spends most of the last half of this column making more arguments by assertion and relying on false premises. Like his explanation of Christendom. WTF is that? I looked it up on wikipedia (a level of research which I am confident Mr. Zahnd wasn’t bothered with) and found that Christendom “In a cultural sense, it refers to the religion itself, or to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity. In its historical sense, the term usually refers to the medieval and early modern period, during which the Christian world represented a geopolitical power juxtaposed with both paganism and especially the military threat of the Muslim world. ”

    Nowhere is Christendom defined as “an attempt to invent a risk-free Christianity “. No historical work, or religious work, or theological work which I have ever read has defined Christendom as such. To include that sentence without some kind of footnote explaining it, (which I think would have been hard to do because I doubt you could find a reputable historian or theologian espouse it) is pure hackery.

    Guess what, still more.

    His explanation of empire is absurd. I hope I don’t need to explain to you how again he is making assertions that he can’t back up, and expecting you to accept them at face value. I will touch on this one sentence though, because I found it particularly absurd. “Christians on the other hand make no claim to security.” Again, Mr. Zahnd will have to provide some evidence at all, beyond merely his own assertion, if he expects anyone to take him seriously. So when I became a Christian I surrendered the right to defend myself in all cases, because Christianity? Some of the early saints of the Christian church, even some who operated before the arbitrary 300 year cutoff between Christianity and Christendom, were warriors. If Mr. Zahnd wants to tell you that St. George did not believe a Christian had no right to even claim security for himself, he is free to do so. But I would hope that he could provide some evidence of this outlandish, ahistorical claim.

    I could go on.

    I could mention the repeated, unfactual snark. Actually I will.

    Putting the word “patriot” in quotation marks, to smear anyone who disagrees with him as not patriotic.

    The logical fallacy of saying that to reject torture you need to be a humane person, without even considering that there are practical arguments against torture.

    Implying that anyone who disagrees with him worships the anti-Christ.

    Saying that White Evangelicals “support the use of illegal torture on suspected terrorists!” No. False. This is a lie. The survey asked respondents about “torture.” It did not ask them about “illegal torture.”

    Finally throwing in Dick Cheney. Wow, real brave. One of the least popular people in America. Use Dick Cheney as your foil Mr. Zahnd, as if you are speaking truth to power. Of course, when Dick Cheney was popular, you were more than happy to share a stage with him, you disingenuous hack.

    The implication that the Romans killed and tortured Christ. Of course he has to throw this in, because if he admits it was Jews who begged Pilate to do this, it would destroy his concept of “empire” being the locus of evil in the ancient and modern world.

    This article is full of hackery, lies, and intellectual dishonesty. You would have to search hard to find more fail in one essay.

  • Andrew of MO

    I my safety comes at the torture of another human being, I do not deserve such safety. It is false security. It is a lie, celebrated by liars. Are you such a liar, Ed?

  • conversationpc

    I’m guessing when most people in this country, due to events of the past 10+ years or so, think of torture as waterboarding. For the record, I don’t support waterboarding because I don’t think we should be doing to other country’s POWs what we don’t want their countries doing to our guys. This puts me in hot water with other conservatives. I can deal with it.

    That being said…This guy’s guilty of using the same kind of crappy rhetoric that people like him have accused others on the right of using in the past. I can see the headlines…”You Cannot Be A Christian and Support Abortion in Any Situation”. “You Cannot Be a Christian and Support Any Kind of Gay Rights”. “You Cannot Be A Christian and…” blah blah blah blah. The list goes on.

    There are some folks who call themselves Christians who don’t think waterboarding rises to the level of being called torture. I disagree but I don’t twist the logic in such a way that they must therefore have to forfeit their right to eternal life. There are some who think blasting Metallica at 120db to terrorists in a jail is torture. I disagree. I’m sure there’s someone out there to question my everlasting soul’s destiny over that.

    Obviously, there’s an actual waterline somewhere. I feel pretty safe in saying that someone who glorifies Satan and blasphemes Jesus can’t be a Christian. I don’t think this one is quite that close to the waterline.

  • fawlty

    You CAN be a Christian and disagree on how to stop abortions from happening.

  • JK

    Maybe instead we could just force our POWs to read the comments here. Actually, no, that would be inhumane, too.

  • JK

    “Belief in Jesus” + support/participation in torture = ?
    = not following Jesus (which is what repentance means)

  • fawlty

    1. There is no “legal torture”. If you support the use of torture “sometimes”, you support the use of torture. What do you think, that only those who want to torture everyone all the time should count? There is no “grey area” about waterboarding (your example), it has always been regarded as torture. It is illegal.

    2 “So when I became a Christian I surrendered the right to defend myself in all cases, because Christianity?” First of all, in the case of torture: subjugating someone that is under your control, taking away their autonomy completely and forcing them to do your bidding (be it standing up without sleep for days on end, forcing them to stand in stress positions so severe they can’t even control their bodily functions, force feeding, beatings etc) is not defense. It is a violation to the core of the soul of the person under your control. There is no defense at all for something like that, and it has nothing to do with your personal security – YOU are in control of the other person’s security, not the other way around.
    Second, in the abstract there is the issue of “national security”. That is not a Christian matter, but a political, legal and military issue. There is self defense in battle, self defense in war, etc. When we do these things, we fight back an attacker. We don’t violate the core of their humanity while they are in our care. That’s the difference. Does Christianity say we as a nation shouldn’t defend ourselves? Of course not. Does everything we know about Christ tell us that defending the nation by method of the above mentioned subjugation of another person goes against what He taught? I’d say yes.

    3. I agree with you regarding the “Anyone who believes this cannot be a Christian”. That’s clickbait headlining and not our concern. We are told not to worry about who is Christian and who isn’t – the Lord will sort the wheat from the chaff at the time of harvesting. It shouldn’t be our concern what is in the hearts of others. But we CAN argue our position on it and try and convince others why we are right. The type of rhetoric employed in this article about who is a “real” Christian is not what we need.

  • fawlty

    I think most people answer polls about torture based on this idea that torture is like in the movies, where the hero knows the prisoner is guilty and uses a very specific threat about limited bodily harm, such as getting their fingers cut off, to get specific, instantly verifiably information out of them in order to stop a bomb from exploding. “Sure, if everyone is right and it does what it’s supposed to do, I’m OK with it.”

    Which is a complete fiction that has never happened, and will never happen. But I think this is the idea of what torture is that many have, because it’s a very visual and direct idea, and it’s been put into our brains by Hollywood for many years. In the real world, torture is tedious work, degrading for both the person doing it and the person subjected to it. Most people can’t easily imagine how awful and torturous for example sleep deprivation is. “So what, he’s a little tired! I pulled all nighters in college!” Or that the interrogator can’t know what is true or what is not, and that it can’t really be verified – or that the person being tortured is even the right guy.

  • He would certainly disagree that it’s eternal torture.

  • david97404

    Last time I checked, it’s what you believe about what HE did that makes you a Christian — not what you believe about what others do. That said, torture is wrong and should not be endorsed. But to make it a determining point with respect to one’s faith and/or salvation, is to proclaim a false gospel — an offense that I would say is much worse than what the author claims to be arguing against.

  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of
    heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in

    Perhaps his exposition of evangelicalism is even more accurate. To merely believe in Christ does NOT make one a Christian.

    I remember another apostle saying, “even demons believe.”

  • david97404

    Excellent point. Please reply with a full accounting of you doing the will of the Father so that you may prove yourself worthy of salvation…

  • Evan

    Actually not, Joe. Unless you’ve redefined Jesus, which is part of Brian’s point.

  • Olivia

    At no point did Brian say that he wanted the perks of safety from harm. In fact he said that it’s okay if we’re not safe. He’s rejecting safety as an idol. You’re not paying attention.

  • You know full well that is not what I mean or Jesus means. To do the will of the Father is not a legalistic thing. But it does certainly imply to follow what Jesus taught, otherwise, how do you interpret this verse?

  • Evan

    It’s not just you. You’re right, “evangelical” has pretty much lost it’s place in the English dictionary. It means many different things to many different people today. For better or worse, an new generation of Spirit filled Jesus followers are prayerfully dropping the evangelical label altogether. Too much cultural baggage.

  • Mike N.

    You also probably can’t be a Christian if you support abortion…or homosexuality…or adultery…or pride…or lying. Since the author is assuming the role of arbiter of what constitutes being a Christian, I thought it might be helpful to round out the list. The problem for me is that the author doesn’t really explain what he considers “torture” so the point is kind of hard to debate. Not that he’s really allowing any room whatsoever for debate as he makes it crystal clear that “the science is settled” on the issue. Support torture = a trip to hell. Also, some folks on one side of the parental discipline issue believe spanking your child is a form of abuse/torture, so does that mean if you spank your child you can’t be a follower of Jesus?Also, Romans 13 says: “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

    It would be helpful to the debate if the author would use scripture to explain his position as opposed to resorting to emotional provocation.

  • david97404

    I don’t know what you meant, only what you said. Jesus made the will of the Father clear in John 6… 35Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36“But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. 37“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” … WE do the will of the Father by BELIEVING in Him as the only way to eternal life, and by upholding the purity of THAT gospel.

  • I’m wondering if you are failing to see that this is his opinion? He can make absolute statements if he so desires. I tend to agree with him. If we openly reject “love your enemies”, I believe one can’t call themselves Christian. There’s no gray area there. On these other issues, hermeneutically and culturally, there obviously are.

    He’s clearly not saying that whoever has approved of or conducted torture in the name of Christ or as a Christian is beyond saving though.

    My take is that he’s simply saying that this is as incompatible an action with Christianity as there can be.

  • Andrew Harris

    The fact is Torture is the lest effective way of getting information from someone. So form a logical standpoint it is a waste of time, never mind the cruel nature of the whole thing.
    What Christ are you flowing?

  • “For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” (Romans 13:3-4).

    Islamists practice evil because Islam is evil.

  • Actually I’m not the one redefining what a Christian is and isn’t.

  • If we “were a little less ready to harm our brothers and sisters of the world” they wouldn’t be trying to harm us.
    Therefore, 9-11 and all that followed was all our fault?

    This is just blaming the victim. All 3,000 plus of them.

  • Taco

    like Mr. Zahnd, you have made the mistaken assumption that snark is an adequate substitute for facts.

  • Eli

    If we are trying to pattern our lives after the life and teaching of the Jesus we find in the gospels, isn’t torture off the table?

    I guess if it isn’t, can someone with that opinion clarify?

    And I know that patterning our lives after his life and teachings doesn’t save us.

    It is, however, something we do if the gospel has any real significance to our lives here and now.

  • Phil

    Really? How can you support something like torture, or abortion, in some cases yet not be considered a supporter? You use the example of your own daughter. The problem is, everyone is someone’s child. I find such logic really, really dangerous.

    Second, perhaps the problem is not that theologians haven’t written about the things that you don’t agree with–maybe you just haven’t read them. There is a whole branch of Christian theologians who write about the ethics described above. Christianity “not being safe” for example could be found in the writings of Hauerwas, Yoder, Willimon, etc.

    Finally–your source on “Christendom” is wikipedia. I’ll just leave it at that.

  • chrisnbama

    Mike, Paul didn’t have a problem creating lists of those who are in or out, so Brian is in good company. But from a gospel-centric point of view, I think Brian is on very firm ground making assent for torture a deal breaker. There is simply no support in the teachings of Jesus for either violence or torture. Even though zealots (terrorists of Jesus’ day) were welcomed into fellowship with Him, it was always understood that they had changed their mind about the best way of liberating the people. The non-violent way of Jesus was just as radical in the day of Jesus as it is now, but to be a believer in Jesus, it means changing your own point of view about the viability of violence as a means of establishing peace. It’s not easy, and it’s why few follow the narrow way of Jesus and instead follow the broad, easy path of the dominant culture and its reliance on violence.

  • Eli

    can we at least agree that as Christians we are to pattern our lives after His life and teachings. Does that leave us wavering on our stance about torture?

  • Taco

    Yes, my source was Wikipedia. Mr Zahnd’s source was… Little leprechauns? His imagination? An article in Readers’ Digest? If you’re going to fault me for doing less than 20 minutes of research before posting in the comments section, perhaps you would also fault Mr. Zahnd for doing zero research before actually writing the article?

  • ERSchindler

    Well, I find it fascinating that the modern English word word “hell” is translated from the Aramaic “gee’nna” / Hebrew “gehinnom,” referring to a well-known 1st century locale outside Jerusalem called “Valley of Tophet or Hinnom,” associated with pagan sacrifices. Once we understand that much of our modern ideas about “hell” are actually imported from medieval times, Jesus’ original meaning becomes much clearer. If I’m correct, Jesus is primarily concerned about people living harmful, misguided, godless lives in the here-and-now. But I’m not a scholar, and welcome correction where I might be wrong.

  • Jason

    There is a good reason for this. You just look at the actions, words and attitudes of evangelicals and fundamentalists.

  • Jeff McCutcheon

    Define torture. Is it teenage kids bullying a fellow student? Waterboarding? Depriving someone of sleep? We all sin so please don’t try to make one sound worse than another. Sin is sin. Period#

  • I guess you throw out James as well, like Luther then?

  • Taco

    he is saying that no thoughtful people can possibly disagree with him. Well, no thoughtful people can possibly disagree with my assertion that Mr. Zahnd is an intellectually dishonest hack. Don’t even try to disagree with me, see, because it’s my opinion and I’m entitled to make absolute statements.

  • Eli

    Scripture can be bent and shaped to support just about any position.

    Why don’t we use the scope of the gospels to determine whether or not the Christ we find there would support “the action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain.” (Dictionary definition of torture)

  • Not saying you couldn’t disagree. You certainly can. Just knowing that it’s his opinion might not get you worked up so much, that’s all.

  • Mr. Boring

    History is not made of cause and consequence – no one event has one, or even a few clear cut causes.

    9/11 is the fault of those who flew the planes – this much should be obvious. However, no extreme action comes without some sort of background. American troops have been on the ground in the Middle East on and off since 1980. (For historical interest, the US fought the Ottomans as early as 1801 in the Barbary Wars. I feel I should also mention the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire as a factor in all this.)

    How many US military interventions in the Middle East can you think of in the timeframe from 1980 – 2001? The answer is at least 13. Repeated military intervention from a distant foreign power sounds like perfect grounds for radicalisation to me. So the radicals bit back.

    The attack was horrible, and deserves to be utterly condemned. But did it come out of nowhere, for no reason whatsoever? No.

    On another note, one of the reasons America is so hated in the Middle East is because all that has come out to the US public over the last few days, the Arabs have known for ages. The radicals have always assumed the American public have known and condoned this – guilt by proxy. America is a democracy, after all. They are as surprised to hear we didn’t know about it as we are to find it out.

  • Mr. Boring

    That’s an interesting interpretation. Personally, I’d probably interpret “But if you do what is evil…” as including torture. I honestly have no idea how you make the connection form torture to Godly goodness.

    To say we’re supposed to be “an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” sounds scarier to me than the Islam you’re so afraid of.

    Not really sure where you got the whole Islam is evil thing from either, to be honest. JK was discussing Christian theory.

  • thushjz

    Yes, but I personally know a heck of a lot of lefty Christians who do, abortion is toture, and death…

  • thushjz

    You don’t stop abortions by voting for pro abortion politicians pretending to be Christians to get votes…

  • Chris Beggs

    I agree that the ethic of praying for our enemies rules out waterboarding them.

    And I know that hyperbole is your style—but I would appreciate something a little more pastoral from you. For instance, you give yourself grace in your own story to have moved away from a nationalistic paradigm —but do you say you were not a Christian back then?

    Was Peter fundamentally not a Christian when he called the other “unclean”?

    Your writing has been very helpful to me over the last few years. I would even call it formative. Sometimes, your propensity to be sensational as a rhetorical device rivals that of folks that have been very unhelpful (and at times, hurtful) to me.

    Is there grace for people who haven’t had the opportunity to work through what you have? It’s easier to make them one-dimensional (in or out) than to unpack the types of foundational worldviews that prop up the beliefs that support the inhumane treatment of others.

  • Mike

    I like Pastor Z, and think he is a good pastor that just missed it here. We live in a society that votes and takes responsibility for electing leaders. We must have leaders that deal with issues of justice. To gain Intel through non life threatening tactics resulting in maximizing fear and gaining intel is not the same as torture. There is such a thing as a police officers hitting someone with a stick (No cheek turning) that he is ordained to do righteously to save lives. He could even be a Christian! That we honor in our churches. Brian your philosophy sets up the principle that caused the no Hell ideologues to rights question you on. They are wrong about no Hell and you are wrong about the advanced interrogation techniques. But you are still a great pastor darring to think and voice your philosophy. I think you should walk back the can’t be a Christian idea a little.

  • Dirtbeard

    “This is just blaming the victim. All 3,000 plus of them.”

    not necessarily… we could take a hard look at ourselves and see where we have contributed to others wanting to attack us without blaming the victims. that is unless you cannot make a distinction between national policies and 3,000 individuals going about their routine lives.

    what you set up here is a false dichotomy between 9/11 being “all our fault” and the US being completely innocent in world politics… as if we were just minding our own business and Wham….

  • Sherry Heiman

    Ok. The Jews that had enough of the desecration of the temple rose up against their tormentors and beheaded them. They are called the maccabees. After cleansing the temple they only had enough oil for 1day. Turned the Fulbright days. The amount it should too cleanse the temple. This same holiday is the one our Lord and savior celebrated every year of his life. Yes, Hanukkah is celebrated by Jews and those who follow god all over the world. If the Lord can celebrate taking back our God given rights instead of letting those in power make rules and laws that put our values in harm’s way. Then, I will reevaluate what God wants. Sure he wants us to live in peace but there are adversaries out there without the same goals. So, one may want to rethink what God truly wants .

  • Perhaps I should have left out the “a”. You cannot be Christian (Christlike) and support torture.

  • That’s a great question. I wonder if this is to an extent a comment on knowing better than one of ignorance. Or perhaps more clearly, now that you know better (not you necessarily a wider christian you) and make a choice to support torture, you are choosing to walk away from Christ.

  • I suspect that a clear and strong argument can be made that as a follower of Jesus and His teachings (to group to whom Brian is speaking) you are choosing to give up your rights. Since your giving them up, taking them back in any form is probably not something a Christ follower will find strong support for in the teachings of Jesus.

  • Perhaps its less about Jesus plus but rather and if then. If you follow Christ then. A result of a binary belief in Jesus. The belief in Jesus has impact on choices and values as a result and one of those values is loving ones enemy.

  • I think a lot of that is due to Evangelicals and Fundamentalists often identifying themselves by what they oppose. Against abortion, against same sex marriage, against etc. They define themselves in the negative far to often.

  • Dirtbeard

    “christendom” in the more technical sense means far more than just a surface level definition. in many aspects it is an accurate summation of the philosophy that exists when christianity is given special place within a culture and further carries a sense of entitlement and co-regency with the gov’t. so in that sense he uses the term correctly.

    as for defining torture – water-boarding (for one example) was considered torture when it was performed on americans… somehow that was euphemised into “enhanced techniques” when it started being performed by americans.

  • fawlty

    It also has a much more political connotation rather than a religious one. The most vocal of them often seem much more concerned with making legislation to control what other people do than with anything else.

    I think the lesser criticism of the (equally political) “progressive” Christians is mainly because they are much less significant group.

  • There is are a lot of comments about sin being sin and being in or out as a Christian. I’m not sure if this is part of Brian’s point but there is something around the idea of supporting vs. making a poor choice.

    Is murder ok? Most Christians would say no( murder not justified whatever). Do you support murder? Saying yes to that is a probably un-Christ like. Does that mean that someone who has been convicted of murder cannot be a Christian. No. But if that person continues to say that murder is ok and they continue to murder it is entirely reasonable to ask if they know Christ or are a Christian (Christ Follower), which is what Brian is doing here.

  • Dirtbeard

    torture is to jesus
    wall street is to marx

  • khjk45

    I think he does have that right.

  • Taco

    “it is an accurate summation of the philosophy that exists when christianity is given special place within a culture and further carries a sense of entitlement and co-regency with the gov’t. so in that sense he uses the term correctly.”

    That’s not how he used the term. He asserted that Christendom is “an attempt to create risk free Christianity.”

    Tell Emperor Constantine XI, who died on the walls of Constantinople in a futile defense of his country and faith against an invasion of Muslims, that he was the face of “risk-free Christianity”

  • The experience of Constantine doesn’t disprove the point. I think you could make the argument without a lot of struggle he was trying to create a space, Chistendom, where ultimately what happened to him wouldn’t happen?

  • peoplerule

    What a disrespectful response. So you passionately disagree. But Brian’s essay correctly states the position that Christ took (he stopped his disciple who had cut off the ear of one of the Council’s servants that had come to arrest Jesus in the Garden and then healed the man’s ear. Early Christian’s refused military service and accepted all manners of torture and death instead of fighting back. They also feed and clothed the widows and orphans and the poor and Christianity grew despite persecution.

    Imagine what would have occurred in the World if the United States had forgiven 9/11. We had the sympathies and support of the world at that moment. Al Quaida and bin Laden would have been shunned and even the Islamic world would have come closer to us. A surgical strike on bin Laden himself and his camp would have been tolerated. Helping the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan would have been tolerated possibly. But all out war in Afghanistan and Iraq made us look again as the Empire that must be resisted or defeated.

    I think the effects of prolonged violence can be seen in the PTSD and suicides of the men and women that served multiple tours in this longest war. In the past, the ultimate result of war and violence was that everyone was killed down to the last person. Where would you stop your support of violence?

  • Well…this is at least consistent. I don’t know *how* we get from a regime based on organized force (both police and military) to a regime based on Jesus Christ as Lord, but it came across very badly when I read through how U.S. special forces are actually treated in training. (There’s a 36-hour prisoner or war simulation that is useful for studying the early stages of post-traumatic stress disorder.) That makes what the CIA is accused of, look humane by comparison.

  • Ameritianity

    LOL – How many PRISONERS (who we could have shot and killed on the battlefield) were “TORTURED” at GITMO prior to the 911 attack? How many Christians and others were tortured and kill by Iraq and other Muslim Nations prior to our even getting involved in war there? You need to get a bit of a history lesson.

    How many have been killed, including civilians, by DRONES by the Obama Admin?

  • peoplerule

    Perhaps the greatest statement Brian has ever made. I commend his courage in standing up against the American culture of violence and showing that he is a disciple of Jesus Christ. Christianity and Christians always have to make a choice: go along with those in power in one’s country and with the popular culture or preach the good news that Christ wants to pardon the prisons, bring sight to the blind, and set the burdened and battered free. God has been acting this year through those that publish the truth, through people like Brian who proclaim his message, and through people of all religions and even atheists who are working to create a world of justice and without unnecessary suffering.

  • Ameritianity
  • Thomas

    I agree many times with Pastor Brian. What bothers me most when he speaks isn’t what he says, but sometimes, not all the time, how he says it. He is a smart man, an intelligent speaker, and a gifted author. It’s my opinion, that he is sarcastic in his comments leading you to believe that if you disagree with him, you are wrong. I have never met him, so I cannot say much. However, many of his comments that deal with love are followed up by a bashing of Christians. Many Christians who have wrong beliefs need time for God to change them, not a crass speaking individual who continually lets them know how dumb and wrong they are. I don’t believe he does it on purpose. Only he would know. From his Ferguson comments, Left Behind comments, I have seen it done time after time. If he reads this, he might respond by saying that I read too much into his comments or not enough. Maybe I need to embrace more mystery and beauty before I can understand him? Perhaps my intelligence is just too small to compete to have a level conversation.


    The Bible and Self-Defense
    This article is written by Don Walker, pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Kansas City, and is used with his permission.

    Jesus told his disciples in Luke 22:36
    to do an interesting thing. He said “Whoever has no sword is to sell
    his coat and buy one.” This flies in the face of the pacifist image that
    many people have of the Lord Jesus. Some have tried to spiritualize
    away the obvious meaning of Jesus’ instruction. He was speaking of a
    literal sword. It is apparent that His disciples understood what He
    meant by verse 38,
    and Peter’s inept and inappropriate use of the weapon. The point being,
    Jesus told His disciples to “take a sword.” For what purpose if not for
    self-defense? (To slice their bread and spear their olives?) Jesus’
    rebuke of Peter’s use of the sword that night was because of the nature
    of His mission – the Cross – and not a blanket condemnation of the use
    of a sword in defence. Jesus’ statement that “all who live by the sword, shall die by the sword” was not a forbidding of defending oneself, but a condemnation of those who live by violence.The
    Old Testament reveals that God recognizes and supports the validity of
    defence, and even the necessity of taking human life, both by nations
    and individuals. Those who would piously quote the Bible when it says
    “Thou shalt not kill”, stating that all life is God-given and we have no
    right to take it with our own hands, fail to read the rest of the
    Bible. In the same book of the Bible God specifically ordered the
    execution of people for such crimes as blasphemy, sexual perversion,
    adultery, kidnapping, and murder. On the matter of self-defence, it is
    clearly stated in the Law that if a man finds a thief in his house at
    night, taking the life of that thief on the spot is an acceptable means
    of protecting one’s home and property (Exodus 22:2).
    John Locke equated an assault on personal property as equivalent to an
    assault on one’s life, as one depends on one’s property for life. John
    Calvin declared that Christ’s law of love requires defence of one’s
    helpless neighbour. Paul teaches that the civil magistrate properly
    bears the sword (Romans 13:1-7).
    Historically, the Church has always viewed defensive war as just, and
    within the boundaries of scriptural teaching. (This is not to say that
    there have not been pacifists such as the Anabaptists, but they are the
    exception.) Biblically, the just war, as with Jephthah and the Ammonites
    was essentially an appeal to heaven to decide between the adversaries (Judges 11:27).The
    advocates of the non-violent pacifist approach that says we are never
    to defend ourselves in any aggressive or violent way quote such
    scriptures as “Resist not evil” or “Turn the other cheek”
    to support their position. This position seeks to persuade us that any
    form of forceful defence would be contrary to the teachings of
    Christianity and not keeping with the Lord’s example who allowed men to
    do violence to Him.

    The greatest problem
    with this viewpoint is that neither Christianity nor the Bible teaches
    non-violence or pacifism. The Bible shows us in both the Old and New
    Testaments that our God of love is also capable of violence,
    retribution, and vengeance. Force is never condemned in the Scriptures –
    only the misuse of force. Love and force are not incompatible in the
    mind of God, neither are justice and force. In each situation they are
    only opposite sides of the same coin. Religious humanism has put all the
    emphasis on the side of love and pacifism, most of which has been drawn
    more from Mahatma Ghandi rather than the Lord Jesus Christ and a clear
    Biblical standard.

    We must understand
    that when Christ gave the command to turn the other cheek and to not
    resist evil that He was speaking to a situation where men’s hearts had
    departed from the intent of the Law of God, and they were using the Law
    as a tool to satisfy their own personal revenge. The Lord was addressing
    the evil attitudes of hatred and hypocrisy, not the legal procedures of
    His day. We are never at anytime permitted in the Bible to take the law
    into our own hands, nor are we allowed to be vindictive or revengeful
    even in the most extreme situation. If the issue is suffering for our
    testimony of faith in Christ, it should always be triumphant and

    In a unfallen world
    there would obviously be no need for self-defence. But we live in a
    fallen world, where sinful man is by his very nature a predator. Social
    mores may prevent him from giving full vent to his predator instinct,
    but that wicked nature is only beneath the surface. When lawlessness is
    allowed to reign, with the breakdown of society, self-defence is
    required for survival. The reality is that the police cannot fully
    protect you and your family. As a result, we are confronted with the
    necessity of personal protection. We are charged under God to protect
    our family, our possessions (since all of our possessions represent
    stewardship under Christ’s Lordship) and our personal well being from
    any undue violence that would hinder the on-going work of the Kingdom of

    Does this mean that
    God cannot protect His people in times of danger? Undoubtedly, God can
    protect us without means, as He did Daniel in the lion’s den. Or He can
    protect us with means, as He did David with his skillful use of the
    sling against a lion. In both instances, it was God protecting His
    servant. In the same way that God can heal directly, without means
    (supernaturally), or He can heal with means (doctors and medicine). God
    is still the source of healing in both cases. God is our source of
    protection whether He provides it for us directly and supernaturally or
    whether He would require us to use some natural means of protecting
    ourselves, such as a .44 magnum.

    It is to be expected
    that most of us would go to any length necessary in order to protect
    our family from a rampant disease, unnecessary poverty, or the attack of
    a wild animal. Why would we not be as quick to protect ourselves and
    our family from an intruder whose intention was evil?

    Please hear me, I am
    not saying that everyone should have a firearm resting on his
    nightstand. What I am saying is that the Bible does allow for
    self-defence. We are granted under God the right to take whatever
    natural means we deem necessary to provide protection for our lives, the
    lives of our family, and our property.

  • If I love the enemies that not only hate me, but hate my fellow countrymen, aren’t I “adhering” to the enemies of the United States and committing treason under Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution?

  • fawlty

    Torture is by definition not about killing, so your “non-life threatening” distinction is meaningless. It is about inflicting pain (not just fear), long and lasting pain, to break down the person’s psyche and soul. That they didn’t get Intel doesn’t exactly help, but it’s irrelevant anyway.

  • America is not so hated in the Middle East as long as Israel still exists; in fact, America is hated because of its alliance with the only democracy in that region, despite our Islamic sycophant-in-chief.

    And 9/11 is not just the fault of those who flew the planes, but includes those who planned, financed and trained them.

  • Brad

    When I survey some of the methods used (here:, it is pretty obvious that the people, the institutions and the nations who cooperated to use them can no longer play the victim card or the patriot card or the security card. This is about none of the above. Those are pure rhetoric for masochism designed to employ extreme cruelty to ignite the enemy to wrath in order to justify massive build-up of militarism to support global domination and call it ‘freedom.’

    This report is a mirror, just as the Cross was, exposing the depths of depravity associated with violence in the name of god and country. Our reactions to the report, just as to the Cross, stand as our own self-judgment. How we respond IS the judgment. We render our own verdict. Our most appropriate response is ‘Lord, have mercy,’ and immediate national repentance marked by indictments and policy change. Will that happen?

    Meanwhile, there’s this ridiculous notion that releasing the report makes the world a more dangerous place and makes America and her lackies (Canada included) more vulnerable. Why would this be. Do we think that the people we tortured and the groups they worked for didn’t realize that we were torturing them? Or that the 25 partner nations weren’t aware? Or even that the American people weren’t aware? It’s not the report that created the danger, but the torture itself. And associating that torture with freedom and associating our freedom with Christ is, as BZ says, anti-Christ … not as a pejorative label, but by the simplest of descriptive definitions. That this is not self-evident to some betrays the depths of our delusion … but does not excuse it.

  • Ah…but the 1711 KJV is sloppy and double-translates (through Latin) three distinct words in the New Testament as Hell, whose Norse cognate Hel is a very cold place. (Only two of which Jesus used in the Gospels, so do not pay attention to the apostle Peter for now.) The traditional view is inconsistent with both the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (referencing Sheol which is abusively translated into Greek as Hades), or the Sermon on the Mount (referencing.Gehenna, which is fully depicted in Isaiah 66).

    John Calvin also had some interesting comments on interpreting the Hebrew and Greek as “eternal”, rather than translating as “complete”.

  • duhsciple

    You cannot serve two masters. It’s the constitution of the Word who is Christ

  • “… we could take a hard look at ourselves and see where we have contributed to others wanting to attack us” is still blaming ourselves, or are you claiming that we were asking for a 9-11?

    And since when do Muslims need political reasons to kill the citizens of a secular state? All they need is their Quran, but feel free to list the American national policies that justified and/or rationalized 9-11 for them.

    And it wasn’t just the 3,000 or more who died that day, but their bereaved families, first responders and other victims still suffering from the event.

  • You’re not sure where I got this “whole Islam is evil thing”?
    Maybe it was all the recent beheadings in Allah’s name, or were you on the golf course with Obama when that was happening?

    And Romans 13:3-4 is not my interpretation, but the Apostle Paul’s declaration.

  • “Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to ALL what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:5-7).

  • Taco

    Please provide documentation of Christians arguing that “torture is good.”

    This is the kind of straw man argument that Mr Zahnd is making here. Take some statistics concerning a viewpoint, dubiously twist their meaning, and then condemn the unnamed unspecific people who allegedly hold the viewpoints which Mr Zahnd is ascribing to them.

  • Taco

    His opinion is that he has special insight into salvation and that there are requirements beyond the cross. Yes, I get a little worked up when I see a pastor preaching heresy and doing it in such an intellectually dishonest manner. Sorry. Just my opinion.

  • I think in this case you start with the call of Jesus and go from there. Love your neighbour is not ambiguous at all. If for some reason you find that the call to love your neighbour in contrast with other teachings and must choose, I think we default to Jesus as the start point. So if you need one to be right then the call to love your neighbour supersedes the call to be in subjection.

    That said, it seems to me that you’ve set up a false dichotomy here. I don’t see how loving your enemy in treason. But if it is, which is more important following the constitution or following Christ? The dichotomy presented does appear to clearly require you to choose and reading your comments appears to me, though I may be wrong, that you feel the constitution wins out when it contrast Christ.

  • I read your comment above and your issue with the way Brian used the statistics. I’m curious, and maybe you’ve already answered this above if so sorry, but is the issue that saying that people support torture is unfair because the question wasn’t binary? That someone who sees a time and a place that torture could possibly apply does not in the binary support or not support would fall into the not support category?

  • I don’t think he’s talking about salvation at all, but identity.

  • You are wrong.
    Try reading all of Romans 13, then see if you can now read this, assuming you read it the first time I posted it.

    If I love the enemies that not only hate me, but hate my fellow countrymen, aren’t I “adhering” to the enemies of the United States and committing treason under Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution?

    After all, the context was 9-11 and the subsequent war on terror.

  • perhaps the idea of church and state is important here. There are scriptures about the state and it’s need to use the sword. But few, if any depending on your interpretation, that the church or christian should. So perhaps the issue is less about the action and more about who is doing it and who is supporting it.

    Like you said a police officer can be in his rights to use violence. The question here is can a Christian ever be in his rights to use violence or in the support of violence?

  • Taco

    Yes. The phrase “support illegal torture” (Mr Zahnd’s words) and the phrase “agree that torture is sometimes morally acceptable” (the wording of the pew survey) are not equivalent. Mr Zahnd doesn’t even try to explain how they are equivalent. He doesn’t even bother to link to the pew survey.

    It is a huge leap from thinking that something can sometimes be morally acceptable to supporting it. Mr Zahnd makes this leap without bothering to explain that he is making this leap. To do this repeatedly, as he does in this article, is intellectually dishonest.

    Think about abortion. Perhaps you think it is wrong, but perhaps in the case of rape it was morally acceptable. If I took that fact about you, and informed you that you supported illegal abortion and therefore you were not a Christian, that you worshipped the antichrist, and that you were not a real patriot, you would probably feel that I was being intellectually dishonest, wouldn’t you?

  • Thoughts on the fact that we are called to live like Jesus and Jesus didn’t “the right to take whatever
    natural means we deem necessary to provide protection for our lives, the lives of our family, and our property.” but in every way gave up His rights?

  • Dirtbeard

    expanding the number of victims to include families and the like doesn’t change or affect my point – we can still examine american policies that may have exacerbated the backstory while at the same time NOT blaming the victims. they are unrelated

    it would be more accurate to say “radical muslims” don’t need a reason… that said, like most issues the underlying causes are much more complex than a simple “those people just wanna kill us all.”

  • Dirtbeard

    it may be a passive attempt, but one of the results of christendom was to make christianity less risky. and the same still holds true in many ways today.

  • I understand your point, I just disagree. And again I feel you’ve created or we have been presented with a dichotomy of Christs call and the constitution. So which should we pick? Or if that isn’t the dichotomy how do we reconcile Christs call and no committing treason?

  • I could see how someone would view it as dishonest. Maybe there is an important difference between support and morally acceptable but I don’t see much of one. Running it the other way, if it’s morally acceptable (side note: by society or by a Christ center way of living? different morals and all) why wouldn’t you support it?

    Maybe there needs to be more nuance from Brian. Maybe saying that while he is ok with interrogation any interrogation that degrades or dehumanizes is un-Christ like and thus anti-christian. But to me at an overarching level, which is where the appears to have been written, I think Brian is being honest and has done the hard work of looking at the scripture and asking how Jesus would view this. I think the problem is that like so many things, Jesus is probably calling us to do and be something we didn’t’ realize or really want to be. It’s not easy trying to be like and live like Christ.

    This is entirely personal, but the Jesus I know and have been taugth about would never see a time when torture of any kind is ok so the support or acceptable difference is less important. But it’s obvious many people see Jesus from a different perspective.


    “Raise up a child in the way he should go” certainly includes protecting our children from evil which would include protecting the nation your child lives in from invasion by evildoers. Jesus didn’t spank anyone…but we are told to. Jesus didn’t stone anyone or impose capital punishment upon anyone. He also said “render unto Caesar” certain things and running and defending a nation and its people is a governments responsibility. God Himself HATES evil. We are being Christlike when we try to take peace and the knowledge of the availablity of Salvation to all the world. Jesus was man and God. He came to take upon himself the punishment for sins and to offer Eternal Life to those who accept Him. No humanbeing will every be “Christlike” 100% because we must deal with the flesh of ourselves and that of our enemies. Not to mention that there are differing opinions regarding “torture.” May as well throw in “an eye for an eye?”

  • Orthodoxy

    Christians accepting torture comes precisely from the errors of Anselm of Canterbury who viewed God as a Monarch whose honor had been offended by the peasantry and demanded eternal satisfaction (torture) to placate His sense of Justice, which ironically is more powerful than God Himself (if God is contained by his own rules, He is not God). The sooner Christians look to the Eastern Saints of the Church to see the better way, the sooner we can distance ourselves from this evil.

  • Taco

    “t’s my opinion, that he is sarcastic in his comments leading you to believe that if you disagree with him, you are wrong.”

    That’s not just your opinion, he explicitly says that no thoughtful person can possibly disagree with him.

  • david97404

    clearly you did not come here looking to change your beliefs — nor did I — so continued debate is pointless. If at some point you find yourself wanting to explore Free Grace Theology further, here are a couple of helpful resources…


    Psalm 144:1

    Of David. Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;

    1 Timothy 5:8

    8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

    Certainly “providing for” includes protecting. Certainly extracting information from an enemy for the purpose of limiting harm that is to be intentionally imposed on your family or nation is reasonable. “TORTURE” in reality is hurting another person solely for the evil enjoyment of it … not for the purpose of eliminating or limiting the amount of injury or death ones enemy is seeking to impose upon those I am responsible for providing for. We are not told to “wait upon the Lord” in regards to food and water that is required for life. He enables us by providing for us the means of producing food and finding and purifying water. The same applies to self-defense.

  • I’m going to be honest here. I didn’t entirely follow your comment so if my response seems really off then I’ve probably misinterpreted it.

    I agree we are being Christ like when we go out and share Christ’s peace and love. That said I’m not sure how the connects to violence/torture/etc. I didn’t say you shouldn’t protect your child but to or that a nation shouldn’t protect itself. Nations are to do what Nations do and one of the things a Nation is to do it wield the sword.

    But not Christians. We are called to love not to the sword. We are called to radical grace and judgment. It’s some of the reason people will argue Christians can’t be in politics. And yes we should protect out children but the options aren’t do nothing or violence. Bruxy Cavey presented this in a podcast recently.

    Imagine you come out of your house to find one of your
    children is assaulting another. Is violence the answer? No because you know
    the assaulter (is that a word?). What if they have a weapon? Most would
    say still no. You need options and creativity in this situation. the only options aren’t do nothing or be violent.

  • Taco

    Of course the most ridiculous thing about this entire essay is the underlying premise of separating Christianity from politics.

    “Christianity should be a-political. Therefore, let me take this opportunity to condemn so-called christians who have a different political viewpoint than I do.”

    This smarminess and holier-than-thou hypocrisy on display here is just too much. I’m out.

  • see below, but I think you’ve created an either or that doesn’t actually exist and are muddying the work of the state and the values and beliefs a christian holds and acts on.

  • Yalla

    Also torture doesn’t work and is absolutely NIT necessary for national security. If you read the Senate report it proves this.

  • Yalla

    Sorry, *NOT


    I understand that there are pacifists who believe that self defense using force is never warranted. I have already quoted Biblical exceptions. If one still believes that he as a Christian should die with his family before using force, I can understand that. It could have to do with what God has called YOU to do. I am one who will kill and intruder rather than allow an intruder to harm my family. Millions of America Christians have been willing to die for pacifists. Pacifists enjoy a whole lot of life and freedom at the expense of Christian Soldiers.


    Of course I would not say that violence as a first response is ok. Simply saying violence is part of self-defense sometimes and is therefore acceptable.


    One of the reasons that some radical Muslims see America as being “evil” is the “Liberalism & Progressivism” that we promote, in the name of freedom, that flies in the face of virtually every culture and religion throughout all of history…..including Christianity.

  • Mr. Law

    Thanks for those words everyone! I appreciate those responses.

  • fawlty

    None of this has anything to do with subjugating in order to torture a captured individual who is under your care.

    Also, please don’t use Luke 22:36 this way. You know its intent, and it had nothing to do with torture or war.

  • Hannah

    Multiple studies have shown that where abortion is legal, safe, and available, abortion rates go down. Places where abortion is none of the above, abortion rates aren’t reduced. Banning/restricting abortion does nothing to reduce it. It only takes more lives by killing women who have to resort to unsafe illegal abortions. Google it.
    I vote to keep abortion legal, safe, and available because it reduces abortion numbers, whereas if I voted to restrict/ban it, I’d be helping to increase abortion numbers. Abortion will happen either way, I’m interested in helping it happen less often. I’m pro-life and adamantly against abortion and wish it would end entirely. But I’m also a realist.

  • Mr. Law

    If there is one thing I appreciate about this post, I will say that the candidness is refreshing. Sometimes we need to draw lines and take hard stands. I mean, look at Christ Himself, He took very firm and immovable stances. I see it in peoples’ (including mine) speech often, using words like “maybe, perhaps, possibly” instead of “it is the case that, this is what is going to happen, it will be done, etc.” I sometimes think “nice” is taken a little too far, and the notion of “tolerance” has helped to soften objective language. I am not saying we should not be kind or graceful, but there is nothing wrong with drawing a hard line, of course the debate now will be when to draw that hard line. Just a thought.

  • Sam Mad Doc Tsang

    Bravo, sir, for laying out what should be common sense so very clearly.

  • Fair enough, this appears to be something we are going to disagree on and not find any common ground. We have a different view on scripture, how to read it and on what we as Christians are called to. Not the first time not the last.


    Fair enough. Having been in combat and called upon to operate on two types of missions, it is a bit ironic that it is less dangerous to go on a mission to kill the enemy (search and destroy) than it is to go on a mission to “Capture” the enemy for the purpose of gaining information to assist in protecting yourself and nation, and shortening a war that is costing lives on both sides. Everything you see as torture, our own people experience in training. We do not “torture” for fun. We “torture” in order to limit and reduce the “torture” that both we and our enemy will endure if the fighting continues. Should our military be prohibited from using painful but non-lethal methods of gaining information, everyone we may have captured and who may later be released to live in freedom will simply be killed on the battlefield rather than be captured. More lives are at risk for a capture than are at risk in a kill. God Bless and it has been a privilege to have fought for the freedom and life you now enjoy and for my nation.

  • Brian

    Does this same single minded outlook apply to sexual sin as well, such as fornication, adultery or homosexuality? Just want to make sure we do not treat the Word as a smorgasbord! Let your Yes be Yes and No be No!

  • No, it wouldn’t be more accurate to call the 9-11 Muslims “radical’ as they were reading from the same Quran all Muslims believe; if anything, the Quran is radical.

    And their victims are not “unrelated”; you can’t dismiss 3 deaths, much less 3,000 as irrelevant.

    And I am still waiting for you to list America’s national policies that justified and/or rationalized 9-11 for Muslims, “radicalized” or otherwise.

  • This “dichotomy” predates both our Constitution and Christ’s Incarnation.

    David, a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam 13:14), was magnanimous towards his own enemies, but not Israel’s. Before he was king, he defended his fellow Jews against Goliath as he would against any predator threatening his father’s flock.

    So was David supposed to hug Goliath, or use his sling?

  • I wonder if we’re not seeing a suicidal, “progressive” Christianity at work in this very thread.

  • Thank you. Well put.

  • The debate isn’t what should David have done. Its as Christ followers, knowing his call what should we do?

    there are loads of reasons why David experience is different than ours now that matter greatly. The biggest is the person of Jesus who Christians claim to follow. So while David was right to act the way he did Christ calls us to a greater standard than was present before. No longer eye for an eye but turn the other cheek.

    my question still stands, Christ or the constitution?

  • Paul Pinos

    Simple question Joe, what then should we do with Jesus straight forward commands or love your enemies and bless those who persecute you, etc.? Also, according to your interpretation of Romans 13, couldn’t one argue that Islamic theocracies were established by God?

  • LifeHouseRev

    This is what I find to be such fascinating (and incredulous) doublespeak. The President says of torture, “That’s not who we are.” I guess he means to say of drone strikes that blow people to hell: “That’s who we are.”

  • Kathy Leibacher

    We no longer trust GOD for our deliverance from evil, when we take it upon ourselves to punish the evildoer. Christians who fight for prayer in schools, the so called “right” to say Merry Christmas, and claim that the reason for society’s “moral decline” is because society no longer follows Christ…some of these folks, have just been exposed as hypocrites. This is precisely why outsiders don’t like them, and some “Christians” (such as myself) leave the so called “flock” or church. If you’re going to be a “Christian”, I think you need to “repent” of your evil ways. If you’ve been “born again”. …”Christ dwells in your heart”…and you are a “devout follower”, not to mention that He is your “personal savior” .. you need to put your money where your mouth is. He didn’t die on a cross so that you could continue to be evil, because you are blind and stupid. Christ turned over some tables in the “temple” a show of retaliation against the church, for their evil ways. No one was said to have been “physically hurt”, but His anger and speaking out against them or challenging them, is what we are supposed to do.

  • Paul Pinos

    Why skip Romans 13:8-10? And if you ask who is my neighbor, I think Jesus was asked that question and his answer was Luke 10:25-37.

  • cooldude

    Actually… yes, 9/11 WAS indeed our fault. It was blow back for meddling overseas in the Middle East for decades. We are well known around the world for being imperialist.

  • cooldude

    Actually… yes, 9/11 WAS indeed our fault. It was blow back for
    meddling overseas in the Middle East for decades. We are well known
    around the world for being imperialist. This is what happens in revenge and endless cycles of retaliation. We are just raising more generations up to hate America by continuing to be over there. Maybe this is why God said revenge is his.

  • Mike Jones

    I’m fascinated at this discussion that mainly degenerates into “how much can we mistreat someone before we cross the line where Jesus might say, “Hey now, that’s too far.”

    The issue is not how little we can love and still claim to be a follower of Jesus. The issue is, how far should a follower of Jesus love? The answer, of course, is all the way to the end, if need be.

  • Ruaidrí Ó Domhnaill

    I’m so effing fed up with blogs that start out: “You cannot be a Christian and support _______!” (Fill in the blank with gays, blacks, police, gangstas, Democrats, Republicans, Etc. ad nauseum.)
    Even though I happen to agree with this one, I certainly don’t have the authority or the temerity to go around declaring that whole groups of people can’t be Christians because they believe something differently than I do. That’s God’s job. You know… great white throne and all that. I’m certainly not qualified and NEITHER ARE YOU!
    So if you’re bored and need something to do, why don’t you go find a mirror and have a look at your own shit and see if you can work that train wreck out instead of telling other people that they can’t be Christians because they aren’t just like you.

  • Nate

    Is it just Brian who has no right to tell anyone they’re not a Christian, or would you say that to the apostles too? Cause they did.

  • Nate

    I’m sorry, are you quoting Romans 13 to convince people that Christians should support torture?

  • Nate

    The apostles wrote quite a bit about what a Christian is and isn’t. They made lists of sins that kept you out of the Kingdom of God.

  • Brian wrote:
    The Roman governor Pilate condemned Jesus to torture and execution by acting in the interests of the Pax Romana. The Roman Empire could not tolerate a Galilean preacher claiming to be the King of the Jews.

    This is just plain wrong. Here is what the Gospel of John says:
    John 18.38 After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, ”Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.

    Don’t stretch the truth Brian, your version of what took place is not Biblical. Pilate, as a keeper of Roman laws, did not want to kill Jesus. He flat out said so. Jesus broke no Roman law so Pilate had no desire to kill Jesus. Pilate capitulated to Jewish leaders and assumed that they would want to kill a robber more than Jesus. Pilate’s assumption was that the Jews would want the robber killed. His assumption was wrong, but he never condemned Jesus. #WashedHisHands

  • Guest

    Joe, your comments are the worst theological $hit show I’ve seen in a long time. Keep it up, it’s entertaining.

  • cooldude

    In an age where “lefty” Christian means a Christian who accepts the facts of science and aren’t filled to the brim with nationalist fervor, I’m glad to say I’m not a fundie conservative. I think if you folks were around when Christ was here, you’d be rejecting him and screaming “SOCIALIST!” at him.

  • Nate

    “….and waterboarding to whom waterboarding.”

    Just do whatever the government says. They’re always right. Romans 13 actually magically explains away the moral problems of the SS, the conquistadors search for El Dorado, the execution of Galileo, Stalin’s disappearing of millions of political dissidents, Pol Pot’s Killing fields, and Saddam’s massacre of Kurds.

    Also ISIS. Don’t forget them, they’re a government. Everything they do should have the full support of those in their territory. Romans 13.

    Whatever you do, never disagree with authority.

    Crossless Christianity must be so convenient.

  • So America and its constitution are now on a par with Nazism, Colonialism, Stalinism, Communism, despotism and the so-called “sword verses” of the Quran.

    Thanks, but no thanks for your moronic moral equivalence argument.

    Christianity without scripture must be so convenient.

    And BTW, Galileo lived out his life under house arrest until his natural death in 1642.

  • Because you love $hit.

  • But I’m not an apostle, and neither are you.

  • I’m sorry, but are you an illiterate idiot?

  • Guest

    Don’t be a retard, just answer the question.

  • Nate

    We can, however, reference the apostolic standard.

  • Well known for being imperialist by whom?
    Your fellow Islamo-fascists?

  • Dirtbeard

    first – it is unfair and false to label all muslims as radical just because they read the same quran, any more than we’d align all christians with westboro baptists because they read the same bible.

    second – i am not dismissing any deaths.

    third – i also didn’t say the actions of radical muslims on 9/11 were justified.

    i’d repeat what i actually said – but you can look above to see that…

  • Because no one asked about my neighbor, who, by the way, doesn’t fly planes into buildings yelling “Allah Akbar.”

  • Joe, you probably need to get your own blog and not use the comment section here to carry on and on. Thank you.

  • Is “Allah” another name for Jehovah?
    And here’s another simple question: Did you even read what I posted?
    What did David do to Goliath, an enemy of Israel, as opposed to his own personal enemies, e.g., Saul?

  • Why do you think Americans can’t have both?
    According to the Frist Amendment, there is no law law establishing a religion, or preventing its free exercise.
    And is David, “a man after God’s own heart,” not “Christian” enough for you?

  • Take your own advice.

  • Nate

    I’m not making America out to be the equivalent of a heinous dictatorship, I’m saying if Romans 13 is pixie dust for whatever the government does in America, lets just be totally logical and sprinkle the pixie dust on every government any Christian has ever had to live under.

    But we can use America if you want. (It’s obviously got none of the problems that Rome or medieval Europe did! 😉 If everything our government does is automatically right, cause Romans 13 said so, then there has never been a political dissenter in this entire country’s history that was morally justified. They all should have shut up and done what they were told. No protests (doesn’t matter if protesting is legal here- they were disagreeing with something mandated by the government.)

    Did you criticize Obamacare? Romans 13! Protest at an abortion provider (post 1973)? Romans 13! Debate an elected official at a city council meeting? Romans 13!! Call the national budget into question? Make fun of Colorado and Washington for legalizing weed? Say the police wrongfully arrested someone? Speak at a civil rights demonstration in 1964? Refuse to give up your seat on a bus for a white person?

    “Romans 13- magicking the ethical responsibility away from citizenship since 60 AD!”

    Slavery? Japanese internment camps? Child labor? I just Romans 13-ed that shit!

    Hell, we even had a civil war. The south declared ITS OWN GOVERNMENT! That’s a serious Romans 13 wormhole! If I lived in Georgia in 1861, I had to Romans-13 myself into knots! Who do I submit to? If the confederacy conscripts me, do I fight? If the union sweeps through Georgia and burns all our crops, do I resist or do I help them do it? Join their army instead? Is Lincoln my president or is Jefferson Davis? If John Wilkes Booth had squeaked out the assassination of Lincoln BEFORE the end of the war and the surrender of the Confederacy, would that have made it perfectly justifiable and Biblical? He would have been the great deliverer from tyranny! He was just “submitting to his governing authority…”

    Christians in Germany Romans 13-ed their way onto the battlefield against American Christians who Romans 13-ed themselves onto the same battlefield in the opposite direction! No moral questions there!

    Surely all these problems are tidily addressed by Romans 13, and all the other “do whatever Caesar says” passages. So thank God we don’t have to worry about it.

    Oh, I love Scripture. The problem with Scripture though is it doesn’t give cheap-o, brain-optional answers to every question.

  • Ditto Man

    Self-defense? Protection of family? As per your family is taken hostage and they will have their heads cut off. You have captured one of their own. This person has high probability to know where the hostage takers are but… He’s not talking. What would you do? A) Dance, B) Buy him a Starbucks Latte, C) Buy him gifts and send him home with lots of Christian love, D) Apply pain that is psychological in nature but has no permanent damage to any body part

  • As I already posted, it would NOT be more accurate to call the 9-11 Muslims “radical’ as they were all read from the same Quran all Muslims believe; if anything, the Quran IS RADICAL.

  • My apologies, pastor, but it looks like my one post poked a hole in the nest and provoked a swarm.

    It even seems some of your followers have a bone or two to pick with me, and they’re being very persistent.

  • The Bible isn’t an answer book and your post has devolved into a rant.

  • Nate

    “The Bible isn’t an answer book.”

    Congrats, you get the million dollar prize! That was the point.

    If refusing to support torture and calling others to do the same is a contradiction of Romans 13, then the Bible has no meaning.

  • I think they can, it was you that told me they can’t. You said that you cannot follow Jesus teaching “love your enemy” without committing treason “”adhering” to the enemies of the United States and committing treason under Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution” in a post 9/11 situation.

    So you set up the either or no me. I think you can, but as you pointed out above when I said I didn’t think it would be treason you said I was wrong.

    So perhaps we agree that you can love your enemy even if they are aggressing against you.

    As for David, he was Jewish, living under the 10 commandants and the old covenant. We are Christians living under the new covenant with a different standard set out by Jesus.

  • B.

    I’m still waiting for someone to point out what should be seemingly obvious: the same blood that covers me, is available to cover them. He died for “them” too. And I am eternally grateful that the Father doesn’t have the same unmerciful view on us as some of us seem to have on His children that are in desperate need of His grace.

  • I said: “If I love the enemies that not only hate me,
    but hate my fellow countrymen,
    aren’t I ‘adhering’ to the enemies of the United States and committing treason under Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution?”

    BTW, both Jesus and David are “Jewish”.

  • I don’t think you understand the Romans 13 or the Bible.
    I also don’t think that you understand that KLM and the other conspirators and jihadists were “tortured” after refusing to cooperate with their interrogators concerning future threats against U.S. citizens.
    When the cooperation began, the torture ended.

  • Linda

    First off I would not consider the recent report as fact, they neglected to contact the CIA or many others who were actively involved or in positions to be very knowledgeable. I am an Independent and view the investigation, the report and the release as very political, regardless of what the democrats have said. I am very weary of both parties not serving the people.

  • Linda

    Exactly. Brian is close to creating his own ‘brand’ of Christianity with a perspective like this. Changing the thought, as he has done, to being “Christ like” is another issue, separate from being a Christian and where one will spend eternity.

  • Dirtbeard

    and, by that logic, all christians are like the westboro baptists, since they all read the same bible.

  • Jea3
  • This isn’t about logic; it’s about two very different books.
    And the Westborough Baptists might just as well be reading from the Quran because I can’t recall anything in the New Testament that justified their behavior.

  • Well known for being imperialist by whom?
    Your fellow Islamo-fascists?

  • Guest

    My point is, context is important and 13:8-10 seems to sink the point you’re attempting to make.

  • Paul Pinos

    Allah means God. My point is, if we are to interpret Romans 13 as you seem to be, then the following clearly would show the point I was making above. I’ll patiently wait your response to my other questions.
    Respect for Authority
    13 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. 2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.

  • Paul Pinos

    Name calling doesn’t count as actually answering the question.

  • Paul Pinos

    I think what’s provoking some people is the fact that you’re sidestepping questions and you’re not being logically consistent (or honest) with your interpretation of the text you’re using to make your point.

  • Paul Pinos

    My point is, context is important and 13:8-10 seems to sink the point you’re attempting to make.

  • And the *consequences* of yielding to being covered by the Blood, includes working on/being worked on to cease all beliefs and practices contrary to being like Father in Heaven i.e. like Jesus Christ. I’d like to think it’s less painful to cooperate with the Holy Spirit here (following Christ), than actively resist (intentionally not following Christ).

    That work may not be completed in this life, but there is no enjoying the presence of Father in Heaven for those who are not like Him i.e. like Jesus Christ.

  • Kjsiex

    You are correct, not all Muslims are”radical”, a very small minority, such as many living in this country are not radical. But make no mistake, the overwhelming majority of all Muslim leadership around the world practice a violent and radical religion aimed at exterminating Christians and other non-Muslims.

  • Speaking of context, what is Paul saying in the rest of that chapter?
    Exactly how does v. 8-10 “sink” the point Paul is making in the beginning of the 13th chapter of Romans?

  • So now you’re authorized to both think and speak for others on this forum?

  • Allah may be your God, but he’s not mine.
    And if Allah is your God, then your Christianity is in question.

  • Thomas Eddlem

    Thank you for your stand, Brian.

  • Paul Pinos

    I am authorized to make assertions based upon what I’m observing. Still not answering my direct questions… I’m starting to think someone’s trolling…

  • Seems how?

  • And what name did I call?

  • Chris Kammerer

    Imprisoning people and keeping them from their families locked in a cell 23 hours a day is hellish torture in my book… Is it not? If not could you please tell me precisely why it isn’t torture?

    That being said. How many of you responding to this post whole heartedly support a confiscatory tax system where wealth is redistributed by force and the threat of torturous imprisonment for those who do not comply? Not only is this barbarism supported, it is perversely promoted as a kind of WWJD politics/economics.

    Which is it? Is torture inconsistent with the Christian faith or an essential tool in a system which should be championed by Christians to promote “social justice”.

  • Paul Pinos

    v. 8-10 states “8 Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. 9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”[a] These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” It’s impossible to love your neighbor as yourself if you’re torturing him. Torturing someone is the exact opposite of loving them.

  • Cam

    “Allah” is the Arabic word for “God.” Paul is not saying he submits to the Muslim deity, he’s simply clarifying an issue of semantics. If a native Arabic speaker were to discuss the Judeo-Christian deity, they would probably still use this same word.

  • By whom are you authorized to think and speak for others?

  • Paul Pinos

    What Cam said.

  • Paul Pinos

    Trollin’, trollin’, trollin’

  • Paul Pinos

    Would you consider that I’d be insulting you if I asked if you’re an illiterate idiot?

  • And how does that negate what Paul just wrote in the preceding verses?

    13 Let every person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God’s appointment.

    2 Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged [in divine order]. And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves [receiving the penalty due them].

    3 For civil authorities are not a terror to [people of] good conduct, but to [those of] bad behavior. Would you have no dread of him who is in authority? Then do what is right and you will receive his approval and commendation.

    4 For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, [you should dread him and] be afraid, for he does not bear and wear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant to execute His wrath (punishment, vengeance) on the wrongdoer.

    5 Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath and escape punishment, but also as a matter of principle and for the sake of conscience.

    6 For this same reason you pay taxes, for [the civil authorities] are official servants under God, devoting themselves to attending to this very service.

    7 Render to all men their dues. [Pay] taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due ….

  • Paul Pinos

    I will gladly answer that if you actually answer any of my questions.

  • Your claims are not dependent on my answers.

  • Only if I didn’t act like one.
    I would also consider the source.

  • That’s not an answer, is it.
    And look who’s really trollin’.

  • The Apostle Paul isn’t an Arab and wouldn’t use a word that postdates his writings.

  • Paul Pinos

    My point is, you’re not answering any of my questions posed to you, which prevents/protects you from substantiating your position. If you’re not interested in honest and open dialog, then you’re wasting my time and your own.

  • Cam

    Please correct me if I am wrong here: your argument here seems to follow the form that because actions taken against detainees in Guantanamo Bay and other holding sites were carried out under the direction of members of the U.S. government, those actions must have been right, because the above passage states that government is established by God and acts under his authority.

    You strike me as a patriotic individual, Joe, and I respect that. But this argument you are building could just as easily be used against our founding fathers who chose to rebel against the authority of the British empire. It could also be used in response to any number of other issues people have with our government today, such as healthcare reform, immigration reform, and many of our foreign policies. Would you be convinced by this argument if someone were to put it to an opponent of the Affordable Care Act or of recent changes in immigration policy?

  • This isn’t about my claims, it’s about pointless points that you can’t or won’t explain.

  • Paul Pinos

    Do you claim to be Christian (AKA Christ follower)? If so, what do you do with the passages where Christ clearly commands us to love our enemies, bless those who persecute us, not to return evil with evil, etc. My claim is that when we don’t obey what he clearly commands, we aren’t being Christ-like. Plain and simple.

  • The “apostolic standard”?
    Is that anything like the Apostles’ Creed?

  • Cam

    True, but Paul Pinos (who is also probably not Arabic), the commenter to whom I was referring, used it. My comment was regarding his use of the word, although I suspect you already know that.

  • Guest

    It is about claims. Do you claim you’re a follower of Christ? If so, what do you do with the passages where Jesus clearly commands us to love our enemies, bless those who persecute us, not to return evil with evil, etc.? My claim is that I’m not being Christ-like if I disobey what he clearly commanded.

  • This is not about me, or you for that matter.
    And this is not about MY enemies, but the enemies of all my fellow countrymen.

  • As individuals, we are not to seek revenge. Vengeance belongs only to the Lord (Psalm 94:1;Romans 12:19). Also, as individuals we have no authority to punish society’s wrongdoers or to extract confessions from them. Therefore, as individuals, we can have no license to torture; inflicting intense pain on others is wrong. God alone is able to mete out punishment with perfect justice, and it is His prerogative to make His punishment painful. Demons are aware of a future time of “torture” for themselves (Matthew 8:29). Hell is a place of “torment” and intense agony (Matthew 13:42;Luke 16:23-24). During the Tribulation, torment will be part of the plagues upon evildoers (Revelation 9:5;11:10). In any of His judgments, God is holy and perfectly fair (Psalm 119:137).

    Read more:

  • Paul Pinos

    Your claims/assertions are about you, since you made them and all… additionally, my direct question was pointed directly at you, and yet you refuse to answer it.

  • Frankly the founding fathers were on thin ice; the American colonies were not sovereign states, but British colonies under colonial charter granted by the crown.
    And I am not sure all the actions of the U.S. at Gitmo were right, but they did have the authority to do them and had Congressional oversight despite recent claims to the contrary.

  • It’s about your claims.
    Anytime you’re ready.

  • I did not make claims about me, and you have yet to explain your claims about context and Romans 13.

  • A use he never explained.

  • Paul Pinos

    I explained it already. I’ll post it again, so you won’t have an excuse: v. 8-10 states “8 Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. 9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.”[a] These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” It’s impossible to love your neighbor as yourself if you’re torturing him. Torturing someone is the exact opposite of loving them.

  • Paul Pinos

    Are my questions really that intimidating/threatening to you?

  • Paul Pinos

    I contextually used it in response to your “Is “Allah” another name for Jehovah?” comment.

  • Don’t flatter yourself.

  • Paul Pinos

    Then why not answer my questions?

  • johnsonsabc

    If “our brothers and sisters of the world” (terrorists) put down there weapons tomorrow and said “we will fight no more” there would immediately be peace. If we (Christians and Americans) put down our weapons tomorrow and said “we will fight no more” there would immediately be 10,000 of “our fellow members of the human race” at our borders ready to attack.

  • And as I already posted, how does that contradict what Paul wrote in the preceding verses?

  • Paul Pinos

    I never claimed it did. I claimed in contradicts you’re use/interpretation of Romans 13 to justify torture.

  • Paul Pinos

    Now that I’ve answered your questions, are you willing to answer mine?

  • I have, just not to your approval.

  • Answered how?

  • Paul Pinos

    How did you address my questions regarding what you do with passages where Jesus teaches us how we are to treat our enemies and those who persecute us?

  • Are you referring to enhanced interrogation?

  • For what purpose?

  • Paul Pinos

    I’m referring to any form of torture. Can you love someone is you’re torturing them?

  • And as I already posted, how does that contradict what Paul wrote in the preceding verses?

  • Paul Pinos

    To clearly show that by your use of Romans, “all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”all governmental power could be ascribed to God. That includes all governments you like or dislike.

  • Who am I supposedly torturing?

  • I am not using Romans; I am quoting Paul.

  • Guest

    You’re torturing me with your illogic, dishonesty and cowardice.

  • How did David treat Goliath?
    How did Obama and Seal Team Six treat bin Laden?

    Rulers are not always in a position to forgive our enemies and those who persecute us.

  • My use? How did you interpret rom 13:1-2?

  • You’re just trolling.

  • Paul Pinos

    What does that have to do with what Jesus taught? I refuse to waste any more time. I know you probably won’t take this comment as sincere, but it genuinely is. Have a good night and may God bless you!

  • See above.

  • Anthony Wick

    Safety from harm? You are EIGHT times more likely to be killed by an american police officer than a terrorist. If you think torturing people fosters a safer society, you my friend are delusional and need to reassess your belief’s about what is true in regards to American foreign policy.

  • Another name and another nature.

  • R u repeating yourself?

  • I’m quoting scripture, not me.

  • Post it again?
    What was that definition of insanity?

  • Romans 13 is about what Paul taught.

  • Christians are followers of the greater Son of David, Jesus Christ. And Jesus never cut off anyone’s head. Not Pilate’s, not Herod’s, not Caesar’s. Everyone expected Messiah to be a second coming of King David or Judah Maccabeus — a Messiah who would be a violent revolutionary leading a bloody uprising against Rome. Jesus did not do this. Jesus was not the second coming of any Jewish war hero, he was the first coming of the Prince of Peace. What Jesus did was something truly revolutionary: He re-founded the world around an axis of love expressed in forgiveness. We call it the Cross.

    You can use Joshua or David or Elijah or any number of Old Testament heroes to “save” you from Jesus’ message of enemy-love and radical forgiveness, but if you do that you will never see the kingdom of God. Jesus’ call to discipleship is a call, not to conquest and triumph, but a call to co-suffering love and sacrificial death. The cross Jesus calls every would-be disciple to take up is the willingness to suffer and die rather than defend or retaliate. It is the most radical thing the world has ever seen. It is the kingdom of Christ.

  • Pastor, if David had not killed Goliath and saved Israel, would there even have been a kingdom for Christ to inherit?
    I think the interrogators at Gitmo were also trying to preserve a nation under siege as best they could.
    Good Night.

  • Rick Smith

    How do”Liberalism and Progressivism” inspire hatred? Liberals are know for being tree huggers and such, and I would hug a Muslim right now as well.

    But really, how does Liberalism (and please don’t include american republican ideology for your answer) fly in the face of every culture and religion?

  • Rick Smith

    Johnsonabc that sound like fear speaking again… I think that if we as Americans spend half as much time preaching and spreading peace as we do war, we would not have to worry about 10,000 people wanting to kill us. I have found in life that If I am kind and loving toward other I most often get this back in return and if I am hateful and destructive toward others I get this back as well. If we stop looking for fights maybe we wont find them, or at least less of them.

  • caming

    Straw meet Man.


    Abortion on demand as a method of birth control….Promotion of the Homosexual Lifestyle as equally good and acceptable…Being against nationhood and for illegal immigration…Promoting a false theory of “Separation of Church and State”…Big, Centralized government thus giving great power to a few rather than “of-by-for”…Revisionist History….End justifies the means acceptance of lying and distortion…just to name a few.

  • From one shepherd to another, thank you so much for this, Brian!

  • Rick Smith

    As a Christian and a Liberal I do not support abortion, never
    have and it just doesn’t fit into the Christianity that I believe in or the
    Liberalism that I support (and I am so far to the “left” it would
    make you a bit sick to your stomach.

    I neither promote homosexuality nor condemn it. I think we as Christians like to hate
    “homosexuals” and disrespect them as humans, while all the while
    pretending that we are “high and mighty”. God doesn’t love them any
    less and if perhaps before we throw stones at someone for their life choices,
    we should look at our own. You imply that homosexuality is a sin as stated in
    the Bible, and I couldn’t argue with you on that. But where I will argue is
    that there are hundreds of other commands that we don’t follow daily, if ever.
    It’s easy to throw stones at people without searching ourselves first. And
    remember, they are still human and our brothers and sisters first.

    I am neither for nor against nationhood. It can bring us great things or it can bring us Nazi nationalist thinking. Nationalism too often brings “us vs. them” thinking and promotes
    racism. We speak of America as the greatest nation on earth but a strong and
    great nation does not have people hungry and living on the streets in 12 degree
    temperatures. I am no doubt privileged to live in this country, but my spirit
    of nationalism is weak. As for “illegal” immigration? I say we take down the
    borders, annex Mexico and we can all live together. I think the Mexican people
    can teach us a lot and add quality and richness to our culture… “The door is
    open, come on in…”

    I am sure that
    without a big centralized government, Capitalism would have rolled over the
    weak, down and out. What happens to the elderly who don’t have resources or a
    family to help them when trouble comes knocking? How about a young family that
    has a loss of employment? So I propose an anti-big government challenge to you:
    If you don’t believe in big government and you grow old, refuse your social
    security, if you lose your job and your family is hungry, refuse to apply for
    food stamps, if you lose your job, tell the employment security office that you
    will get by just fine without their help.

  • Eldrake

    Disagree, here’s why: Brian, what say you to the view expressed by the great theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in ‘Moral Man, Immoral Society’ that we cannot apply what is Christian and moral from a personal perspective to the actions of a Government. E.g., I should not kill people, but there is such thing as a just war, which involves the Government killing people. I should turn the other cheek as an individual, but a Government doesn’t have the option of ‘turning the other cheek’ if it is being attacked, because it is charged with the safety of an entire population. This article commits a fallacy of reasoning when it says that because XYZ is bad for me to do, XYZ is bad for a Government to do.

  • Eldrake

    But thanks for the moral certainty, Brian, good to know you’ve done the thinking on this and can categorically instruct us what we must believe. Nice to be 100% sure that you are right and everyone else is wrong.

  • Scott A Smith

    I find it very dangerous to conflate God’s just wrath and our sinful actions or God’s righteous agenda and our sinful agendas.

  • Eldrake

    Don’t worry, Brian’s done the thinking for us so that we no longer have the option of disagreeing with him on this.

  • Eldrake

    And what the Navy Seals should have done when they found Bin Laden was to ask whether he knows Jesus, invite him to say a simple prayer to let Jesus into his heart, and then turn the other cheek and let him walk away even though he is an enemy – I mean, that’s what it says to do in the Bible, turn the other cheek even to those who are our enemies.


    No need to go off the deep end. (1) Social Security – I will take it since I have paid for it. However, if it had been handled correctly by the government, govt would have taken care that the funds were not used for other purposes and there would be no talk of it going bankrupt.Govt failed in its fiduciary responsibility and had this been done in the private sector, regulators would have seen that it was done properly. How ironic. (2) Sin – yes we all sin and fall short. We are still to call sin sin and try to live better. ENCOURAGING sin by condoning sin and calling it an alternative LIFE style is not what my Bible says we should do. (3) Like many Liberal / Progressives, you have agreed to confer upon the Big Centralized Govt the role of the CHURCH while at the same time you support the theory of Separation of Church and State which you would say prohibits the State from favoring the very religion/faith that God has placed these responsibilities on. The Govt doesn’t “help” people who need it for humanitarian reasons….they do it to buy votes. Importing more who will need taxpayer support while the same govt has failed to cure the poverty problem for Americans is the ultimate example (4) Nationhood – God has established nations. His word even tells us how to be a Blessed nation and thus it is likely that some nations will be blessed and successful…and some may not. It is unlikely that the majority of Mexicans would even want to become part of the USA. (5) Homosexuality – yes it is a sin but unique in that those who commit it do not agree that it is sin. Virtually every other “sin” is done by those who hide it while HOMO is flaunted and it seeks special recognition. Those who “come out” become heroes. Even the LIB state of Cal VOTED to NOT have gay marriage yet the BIG FED over-rode the will of the people and a judge decided differently.Loving the sinner does not mean that you encourage the sin and invite others to join in. (6) I have no problem with Govt Regulations that prevent unfairness and offer a safety net. But it should be for the purpose of helping people get on a path of success and self- reliance rather than guaranteeing that they remain dependent for life and will vote for the party that takes from others to give to those who are basically VOTE SLAVES. (7) Multi-Billionaire Liberals – we all know who they are. I would submit that it you are a multi-billionaire liberal, or conservative, you probably got a little greedy some place along the way and could have paid people a little more or shared a bit more. Think about it. If you had a billion dollars, you could take 4000 families at $250,000 each over a period of 4 years, adopt them, get them educated (education choice for all would help too), teach them how to stay together as a family unit (Christian Counseling), help them gain confidence, be healthy, learn good work habits, train them for a job, get them in a home, teach them to take care of it, instill in them the duty to pass it on and pass it down (Make Disciples)….rather than giving handouts to those who are capable of working and learning while even the blind and disabled are capable of working for a living at Goodwill or the Salvation Army Centers.

  • Brian Zahnd wrote: “You cannot be Christian and support torture. I want to be utterly explicit on this point. There is no possibility of compromise.”

    Brian Zahnd’s assertion goes too far in that he singles out evangelicals from a 2009 Pew Research Poll that indicated six out of ten ‘evangelicals’ supported torture of enemy combatants in the attempt to extract information that might prevent acts of terror against innocent civilians. NOTE: The same Pew Research also indicated that ALL other American Christians polled favored torture only slightly less than evangelicals. That being true, why did Zahnd emphasize only evangelicals from all other branches of Christianity?

    Nonetheless there is a larger issue that Zahnd neglected to mention. It’s the issue of the horrific teachings of most Christian denominations of a God-created and sanctioned place of eternal conscious post-mortem torture of all non-Christians in a so-called hell. (I hasten to say that I personally do not endorse torture in any form or for any reason; especially in a mythical fiery hell.)

    Finally, given the fact that all professing believers are not without fault, I would suggest that we let God determine who among us is a Christian despite our screwed up thoughts and actions.


    Yes, we practice what we preach at Ameritianity –

  • DavidReynolds

    I certainly agree that torture is morally abhorent and Christians should be encouraged to clearly oppose it.
    I do think it’s such a shame that the writer then chooses to obscure and distract from the moral clarity of that beginning with dubious historical pontifications. Firstly, its absurd to say that Pilate had Jesus crucified beacuse he posed a security threat to the Roman Empire. He posed no threat to Pilate’s or Caeser’s rule, Pilate proclaimed that he saw no reason to put Jesus to death, and the sentence was only carried out on the urgings of the local leaders.
    Secondly, ‘Christendom’ was not “born” and did not “attempt” anything because it was not an actor or an entity but an idea and a modus vivdeni. To the degree that it existed, it was where there was not a “subordination of Christianity to the soveriegnty of empire” as Zahnd quite wrongly claims but where temporal authority was regarded as legitimate to the degree that it defended the church and received its blessing. The ‘King of the Germans’, for example, only became the ‘Holy Roman Emperor’ when crowned by the Pope. It was more the subordination of empire to the church, in fact, than the reverse. The result was not “risk-free Christianity” or the sort of iron-clad security and imperial authority that Zahnd anahronistically projects back in time, but a rather loose governing structure of allegiance and obligation in which the arbitrariness of kings and powers was placed within certain (imperfect) limitamtions that would not have otherwise existed.
    Christendom was certainly an imperfect ideal, but it was a complex one that shouldn’t be reduced to a catch-all straw-man for all discontent with the nexus of temporal and spiriual power. Neither European history nor Christianity is Star Wars and if one attempts to impose a simplistic “evil empire” narrative on them, a misrepresentative mess will result.

  • Keith

    I believe that Christians should not support torture, but to say that a person is not a Christian if they support torture is, in my opinion, playing God. Brian has every right to give his opinion, but that is all it is – his opinion, and should not be taken as fact. I have a problem with people giving their opinion as fact.

  • Capiscan

    So Ed, who would Jesus torture? I just can’t picture Jesus putting jumper cables on some one’s privates. You can?

  • Rick Smith

    Ameritianity, thank you for sharing my views on Christianity and Politics on your website…it saves me a great deal of time and I’m sure that your readers could use the help. 🙂

  • “Ameritianity,” is this a parody website poking fun at what over-the-top syncretism of Christianity and nationalism looks like or is this for real?


    Rick, I enjoy discussing these issues. I believe I have been respectful in our debate. If you would like for me to delete our discussion, just let me know. God bless….have a great Christmas.

  • Elizabeth

    Actually they DID contact the CIA and got information from the CIA. Look it up. Don’t go by what Cheney and company say. Many CIA operatives refused to be interviewed because they were not granted immunity.


    And you are a pastor? You don’t like debate? You may have noticed that much of the website is audio and video of what others have said so that viewers can hear/see and make up their own minds on issues. I find that many Liberal / Progressive “Christian” “Church” leaders live in a very protected environment surrounded only by others who share their narrow views on many issues. You have been well indoctrinated. The difference between us is that I have no problem listening to your positions without attacking you personally while you like to pretend my views are of no value and should be censored.


    By the way, I have always wondered why “Religious Leaders” who promote the theory of the absolute “Separation of Church and State” even take the time to be involved in or comment on “Political Issues.”

  • DavidReynolds

    This blog-post also manages to both side-step and obscure the genuine ethical dilemma that honest people grapple with on this issue. And it does so by establishing a substantially deceptive parallel between the crucifixion of our Lord and the torture carried out by arms of the U.S. government.
    Why is this a false parallel? Crucifixion was a form of execution designed to publically degrade and humiliate the condemned man. The modern torture we are discussing is a means of gaining information. When ordinary people (including the evangelicals that the writer singles out for his opprobrium) answer a poll question that they support the use of torture on terrorists, what are they saying?
    Are they saying, ‘we believe terrorists should be executed in a publicly degrading way’? Most people who support torture do so based upon the equation that it is morally defensible in order to save the lives of thousands of others. I don’t happen to believe that torture achieves this and the recent report supports that, but this does not change the fact that this is what most people are thinking about when they think about terrorists and torture. Sanctimoniously slapping those people down by comparing torture to crucifixion does not help anyone.
    Furthermore, even though I agree that torture is immoral, the reductionist idea that Jesus’ command to “love your enemies” ends the debate is completely wrong. By this logic, all governmental violence and punishment against wrongdoers would be wrong. But Romans 13 says “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Is this a proof-text for torture? Absolutely not. But it indicates that pastors and commentators have to work a little bit harder than proof-texting with “love your enemies” in arguing against it.

  • I know the theology and if you didn’t notice we’re disagreeing on semantics… unless you truly believe you don’t have to follow Matthew 5 (and everyone of Christ’s teachings) to be a child of God.

    It would make absolutely no sense to have these verses in the Scripture then:
    “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?”
    “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and
    envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before,
    that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
    “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable
    and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all
    liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and
    brimstone, which is the second death.”

    I’ll say again, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of
    heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in

    That should be the end of the discussion. It’s not about salvation, it’s about living as the children of the King. Living in the Spirit.

  • I know the theology and if you didn’t notice we’re disagreeing on semantics… unless you truly believe you don’t have to follow Matthew 5 (and everyone of Christ’s teachings) to be a child of God.

    It would make absolutely no sense to have these verses in the Scripture then:
    “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?”
    “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

    I’ll say again, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

    That should be the end of the discussion. It’s not about salvation, it’s about living as the children of the King. Living in the Spirit.

    I suspect you won’t agree with this link either…

  • Frank Turk

    Brian —

    What do you make of Romans 13?

  • Like…

    “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the love.” -Romans 13:8-10

    I say, Amen!

  • Ameritianity

    LOL – It was the USA, our abilities, free enterprise capitalism, that developed virtually every source of income to the Islamic States via oil production that helped them become more than mud dwellers. No Islamic State/Nation has every built a car, an aircraft, a hospital, an oil well, a medicine, a dam, or much of anything else without the assistance of the West. They send their children to the USA and other nations for their education. Same thing applies to China in fact.

  • Kevin Thomas

    Killing on a mission and torturing prisoners are two different things. I think they are both wrong and reasonable people can disagree with the former.

  • Kevin Thomas

    Seems to me if we are to love our enemies….we shouldnt torture them.

  • Kevin Thomas

    war does not equal torturing from my perspective.

  • Kevin Thomas

    Brian changed “a Christian” to Christian…

  • Kevin Thomas

    I wonder if sarcasm would apply to loving one’s neighbor? Hmmmm…

  • david97404

    Thanks Marcello. I should know better than to continue, but for the sake of others who read this thread I feel compelled to reply.

    What you refer to as semantics, I consider to be the heart and soul of the gospel. I cannot fathom distinguishing between “being saved” and “being a child of God” — a distinction you appear to be making (see first and last sentences in your comment).

    And further, that you continue to reference basing one’s standing as a “child of God” on a set of behavioral standards, rather than it being entirely dependent upon a saving faith/belief in Christ (see John 3:16-18 for reader’s reference), I find troubling and disheartening. 

    While I grant that you and others are 100% entitled to your own opinion and interpretation, I will state emphatically my belief that any theology which attributes one’s salvation (being “born again” — see John 3:3-7, Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Corintians 5:17, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:3 for reader’s reference) to ANYTHING other than one’s faith/belief in Christ as misguided and ultimately a false-gospel. It is simply a yoke around believers necks, much like the law from which Jesus came to set us free (by fulfilling it and yet paying with His life (see Galatians 5:1-6 for reader’s reference).

    Again, I fully understand that an entire segment of “Christianity” subscribes (perhaps unwittingly) to a theology where, having been “saved by faith”, one’s continued eternal state is dependent upon adhering to a set of behavioral standards — followed by confession and subsequent forgiveness whenever those standards are not met.

    To which I must ask, “How is that ANY different than the OLD covenant, with it’s laws and traditions?” … other than you are substituting Christ for a bull or a goat!

    That belief system is certainly NOT “once and for all” as Christ’s sacrifice is described throughout the NEW testament (see Romans 5:18-20 and 6:10, Hebrews 9:23-28, 1 Peter for reader’s reference).

    If we fail to look at the entirety of the New Testament through the lense of the cross and grace by faith, we become like the Galatian believers who Paul so emphatically corrected, “You FOOLISH Galatians! Who has bewitched you? … Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (see Galatians 3:1-14 for reader’s reference). And again, Paul reiterates that we will “receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (verse 14).

    I do not think for a second that my words will change your heart or your beliefs. I only hope that they may be seeds of encouragement to the reader whose faith has suffered and wilted under the weight of trying to please God and follow a set of rules or commands in order to maintain right-standing with Him. 

    Christ died to set us free, not that we would return to a form of “new-testament bondage.” I pray that this truth would take root in the reader’s soul and that the Spirit would nourish and grow that into a grace-filled love for the true Gospel. 

    Run from those who seek to put you back into bondage, no matter how well-reasoned their (“Biblical”) arguments may seem, or how much FEAR they may instill in your heart by causing you to DOUBT that faith/belief in Christ Jesus is sufficient for you to inherit eternal life. They speak out of pride, envy, and a desire for control — certainly NOT with a spirit of humility and grace that should accompany the Gospel for which He gave His life.

    Be lead by the Spirit who will guide you unto all truth, not the teaching of men or the traditions of your father or mother. He is the author of your faith. He is the way and the truth. He is the light who will give new life to your soul.

    Traditions will not save you. Theologies will not save you. Following commandments — old OR new — will not save you. Trying to “please” God by living a “holy” life will not save you. A life of repeated confession and forgiveness will not save you.

    What WILL save you? Believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and in His death/resurrection as the ONLY means of being born again and receiving His eternal life.

    Live in that freedom and let the love and grace that flows from it be the joy of your salvation. 

  • NavyVet

    You are making the mistake of conflating waterboarding and sleep deprivation with torture. The problem is that, with reference to the one sided Senate Democrats on the Armed Services committee report, the definition of torture has been changed to something akin to “being uncomfortable”. Torture is destructive… things like breaking or crushing bones, removing fingernails, or any body part, for that matter, and usually the eventual outcome is death or something very close. I have undergone waterboarding as part of my military training… and while it is frightening and extremely uncomfortable, it does not do any physical harm. Psychological discomfort is the point, and fear of worse, which, of course, is neither condoned nor allowed by SOP.

    I will never support torture. But the CIA did not then, nor does now, anything that could be conflated as torture.

    I, for one, am sick of people trying to change the definitions of terms like torture, terrorism, racism, etc. to suit their own political agendas!

    You are correct in saying that one cannot support torture and be Christ-like. But you are dead wrong in contending that any US entity… CIA, DoD, etc… is now, or has ever engaged in using torture.

  • Keith

    I have no problem with “…one cannot support torture and be Christ-like.”, but I do have a problem with “You cannot support the use of torture and claim to be a follower of Christ.” and “You Cannot be Christian and Support Torture.” and “Can you support torture and go to heaven? Maybe” There is no “Maybe” once saved always saved. By stating “Maybe” Brian is saying that if one who states that they are a Christian and supports torture there is the possibility that they won’t go to heaven. The only sin that will keep a person out of heaven is the sin of rejecting Christ. Once again these statements of Brian’s are his opinion and should not be taken as fact. I wonder how many times in Brian’s life that he has been anything but Christ-like? “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone”

  • Stephen Wheeley

    Ed . Brian is not telling people they are not Christians. He is rather pointing out that Christ set the guidelines / standards for being one of His disciples and those standards forbid not just harming others but even wanting to harm them. Hating your brother is equal to murder, just as lusting in your heart is equal to committing literal adultery . Have you forgotten what Jesus taught was the ” second greatest Commandment ” ? Brian is totally right. You cannot truly ” follow Christ ” and also endorse torture . They are antithetical . It is Christ Himself who is saying no one can be His disciple while endorsing evil at the same time. Both salt and fresh water cannot come from the same spring .

    BTW, if you believe ” the ends justify the means ” you are placing yourself in the same camp as the Jewish leaders who thought it was better that Jesus die than for Rome to destroy Israel. ( Not that Rome would have, because Jesus was not a threat to Rome, the Jewish leaders just said he was. )

  • Stephen Wheeley

    When Jesus said ” render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s ” was that not an endorsement of separation of Church and state ? BTW, the Founding Fathers were predominantly Deists , not Evangelicals and most certainly did want separation of Church and state . Freedom from a state imposed religion was a primary motive behind much of the original immigration from England to the New World. From the tone of your comments I might guess you also believe Jesus would carry a gun today and support ” stand your ground ” laws.

  • J. Inglis

    So? It’s irrelevant. Jesus did not call us to revenge.


    “From the tone of your comments I might guess you also believe Jesus would carry a gun today and support ” stand your ground ” laws.” Stephen, nothing I have posted would lead anyone to think I meant what you just stated. Like many concepts, we need to define what we mean by “Separation of Church and State.” The fact that the Church most often ran the schools and the hospitals, and the fact that from day one we did have the Bible and the Ten Commandments in the schools and the courts, as well as prayer, and the fact that it took Liberal /Progressives 150 years to undo these customs, along with the fact that it took 150 years to remove laws that prohibited abortion and gay marriage … it seems that your view on these topics do not line up with our actual history. Not to mention that “CHURCH” is a uniquely Christian term used both for the buildings Christians usually worship in AND the actual BODY of Christ – His followers – on earth.

    The “Letter to the Danbury Baptists” from Jefferson, for example, is often used to support your ideas. However, the actual objective was to NOT have a particular Christian Denomination designated as the official one for the Nation. In fact, each Colony/State was settled and governed by a particular Christian Denomination. There was no other “Religion” that had any real impact on the founding of America.

    The Danbury Baptists letter to Jefferson contains these words:

    “It is not to be wondered at therefore; if those who seek after power and gain under the pretense of government and religion should reproach their fellow men–should reproach their order magistrate, as a enemy of religion, law, and good order, because he will not, dare not, assume the prerogatives of Jehovah and make laws to govern the kingdom of Christ.” … and … “Sir, when we reflect on your past services, and see a glow of philanthropy and good will shining forth in a course of more than thirty years we have reason to believe that America’s God has raised you up to fill the chair of state out of that goodwill which he bears to the millions which you preside over. May God strengthen you for your arduous task which providence and the voice of the people have called you to sustain and support you enjoy administration against all the predetermined opposition of those who wish to raise to wealth and importance on the poverty and subjection of the people. And may the Lord preserve you safe from every evil and bring you at last to his heavenly kingdom through Jesus Christ our Glorious Mediator. ‘ (This does not sound much like the Danbury Baptists thought Jefferson was not a Christian….unless you doubt the faith of the Danbury Baptists.)

    Jefferson responded: “I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.”

    Even the Mayflower Compact states “Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine our selves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the Colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape Cod, the eleventh of November [New Style, November 21], in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Dom. 1620.”

    They were NOT fleeing Christianity. They were EXPANDING Christianity and seeking to PRACTICE their FAITH without being told how to do it by the “State” … which was usually a king or a queen at that time.

  • Josh Duncan

    The wailing and gnashing of teeth in a furnace of fire in Matthew doesn’t qualify?

  • Josh Duncan

    Romans 13 talks about rulers being given the sword for a purpose. Zahnd doesn’t seem particularly concerned, for example, whether a technique we use on our own agents to mentally prepare them for the possibility of being tortured itself qualifies as torture.

    I guess when you can dismiss Reformed Christians as worshiping a “monster god,” it becomes easier to pontificate on why you can’t be a Christian and support waterboarding a terrorist, yet the question of a drone strike on the same terrorist is apparently not on the table for discussion.

  • Josh Duncan

    Also, is the King in the parable in Matthew 18 not meant to represent God as judge, because that parable ends with the unforgiving debtor being tortured in prison.

  • ERSchindler

    Good question, here’s my take. Read in context, Jesus uses these images of judgment throughout Matthew to describe a) a godless, hopeless life in the here-and-now b) destructive events at the end of the age (not “world,” as often mis-translated). There are several occasions on which Jesus makes it very clear that he is not talking about the after-life (i.e. Mt 23:36; Mt 24:6, 9), but rather the frightening consequences of widespread injustice and exploitation by contemporary Jewish political leaders, detailed in Mt 23. All these depictions of fiery judgment have already taken place, culminating in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This view is called the “Preterist view.” There are various versions of preterism, but the most common one is partial preterism. Is this helpful to you? Feel free to correct me where I might be off track…

  • ERSchindler

    Hi Josh, thanks for your comment. I think part of your question is addressed in my above response. I do admit that this and a few other passages cause those holding a preterist view to scratch our heads. I myself am not convinced of an interpretation of this parable that does not equate God the Father with the judging king in the Mt 18 parable. However, one could argue that Jesus’ main point is to show the Father’s endless reservoir of forgiveness towards all people, and perhaps uses contemporary figures (a cruel king) to show just how absurd / foolish the unforgiving servant is acting. Not entirely sure, as I haven’t studied this parable in depth. But I’ll go back and consult my “Parables of Judgment” by Robert Farrar Capon. Brilliant stuff!
    Whatever our conclusion on this particular parable, it should be framed by the much clearer idea that Jesus is talking about the here-and-now, not the afterlife. Hope this helps!

  • ERSchindler

    Your arguments are really weakened by the ad hominems. For Brian (or any blogger) to feature a comment section, it’s to encourage deeper discussion, including constructive criticism and dissent. But at the very least you could comment with some civility.

  • While I am not a fan of torture, you cannot say, “You cannot be Christian and support torture.” While most of what you say about empire and faith is true, your major theme shows a total lack of understanding of the ongoing work of redemption. You have tons of things wrong in your life. Tons. I know you do and so do I. We all do. Should I therefore say, “You cannot be a Christian and [insert any of the tons of things wrong in your life]? No! Of course not! While I could build more arguments for this, you should study it yourself. Start by absorbing Romans, Galatians and Ephesians. In the meantime, before you publish, do a peer review with people who have understanding, people who may disagree with you, people who may help you see your underlying un-Christ-like ideology, people who can identify your judgmental attitudes, people who see most things in life in ways other than black and white. While you can be a Christian and continue to publish bad theology, you really should not.

  • Scott

    Good blog. This article is the first blog of yours that I have seen (I saw it posted on Facebook) Wondering what your view on abortion is.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Those means don’t protect us. You are the one lacking intelligence on this issue.

  • Andrew Dowling

    The US has been propping up oil dictators in the Middle East since the 1950s. You know Iran was a DEMOCRACY before the CIA helped overthrow the government and installed the Shah in power? Yes our actions have helped fuel radicalism there for decades.

  • Andrew Dowling

    The ironic thing is there would be no ISIS if we hadn’t invaded and destabilized Iraq. More unintended consequences from violence

  • Steve Rose

    If you consider Romans was written to Jewish Christians, and examine the context of Romans 13 correctly, you are seeing Paul admonish Jewish Christians to pay attention to ruling authorities, to not step out of line, and essentially not break laws lest the Roman government punish them for doing so. In no way is Romans 13 a carte blanche scripture to justify torture as an acceptable Christian means of action by a person or government.

  • Abortion is a sin.

  • Josh

    “We have willingly embarked upon the risk of following Jesus, knowing full well that such a venture may lead to suffering and death.

    For three hundred years everyone knew that it was dangerous to be a Christian, and therefore knew what it was to be a Christian.”

    The first part I feel is right, as Christians we are called to take up our cross and follow Jesus knowing that we may encounter hardships and suffering, and then to rejoice in them because through them, we will receive encouragement from God in our suffering that will enable us to then encourage others, despite our situations.

    That being said, his very next sentence doest not sit well with me. I don’t feel that the danger of being a Christian allowed more people to know and understand what it meant to be a Christian. Being Christian is not about being in danger, it is about being Christlike. You can be Christlike both in a dangerous situation, as well as in a safe one.

    “The Roman governor Pilate condemned Jesus to torture and execution by acting in the interests of the Pax Romana. The Roman Empire could not tolerate a Galilean preacher claiming to be the King of the Jews. Rome called it insurrection and the penalty was crucifixion. So Jesus was tortured to death.”

    I may be mixed up on this, but wasn’t it the Sanhedrin who held the illegal trial of Jesus and then took him to Pilate asking for the death penalty for Jesus? Was it not also the people who called for his death, not the Roman government? Pilate tried to send Jesus to Herod Antipas, because it was in his jurisdiction, and Herod sent him back. Then when Pilate presented him to the people, he actually acted as a sort of advocate of his innocence of any crimes.

  • In the end there was only one person who had the authority to crucify Jesus of Nazareth: The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. Governor Pilate gave the order and it was carried out by a detail of Roman soldiers overseen by a Roman officer. To remove Jesus’ body from the cross required the permission of the Roman governor. A detail of Roman soldiers were stationed at Jesus’ tomb. The tomb was sealed with the seal of the Roman Empire. The Gospels go to great lengths to make it clear that Jesus was executed by Rome.

  • Ameritianity

    “I have found in life that If I am kind and loving toward” – Easy to say when you live in a peaceful nations who’s peacefulness has been bought and paid for by the blood of others willing to die for your peace.

  • Ameritianity

    ” Early Christian’s refused military service and accepted all manners of torture and death instead of fighting back.” – We should encourage Muslims to do the same thing.

  • The CIA acknowledged that 26 of those they tortured were held in error and posed no threat. There have been no apologies.

  • Ameritianity

    LOL – So you are not aware of the fact that there was a “Iran/Iraq” war that killed over 1 million and the fact that Iraq used WMD on the Kurds and Christians that killed over 400,000. And the fact that Iraq violated numerous UN resolutions and that the UN approved the invasion of Iraq?

    “A surgical strike on bin Laden himself and his camp would have been tolerated” – Killing is OK but using extreme, non-lethal, means to gain the information required to be able to make the kill is not? Amazing.

    “They also feed and clothed the widows and orphans and the poor and Christianity grew despite persecution” – but NOW you want the Federal Government to assume these duties of The Church while at the same time you insist on an “Absolute Separation of Church and State” which would preclude the State from from implementing it in a Christian manner? That is the insanity of Liberal / Progressivism – expecting Humanists to do the work of the God they do not believe in.

    “Imagine what would have occurred in the World if the United States had forgiven 9/11” – We did! We could have chosen to nuke 2-3 major Islamic cities, killed millions, and ended the Islamic problem the entire world faces today. America is the only nation in the history of the world that has the military might to completely destroy all of our enemies – but has chosen not to out of humanitarianism because we are a nation built on Christian Principle.

  • In Romans 13, I don’t see Paul giving Rome carte blanch, but neither did he set parameters for what government authorities could and couldn’t do with the sword it wielded; he just wrote that it had the right to use it.

    Paul himself was stoned, beaten with rods and imprisoned by both mobs and local authorities, but he considered it all as just part of his resume (2 Cor. 11:23-5) and not as something cruel and unusual because back then it wasn’t.

    Paul goes on to make a distinction between what Christians owed the state (v. 1-7) and what they owed one another while living in it (v.8-14).

    However, IMO, for Pastor Zahn or anyone else to say you can’t be a Christian if you support politically incorrect sins, then did Jesus die for only the politically correct?

  • Herm

    I love your title retraction of membership in favor of relationship, thank you.

    I think it is time to get real and I feel like we are actually more ready than we think. We live and survive at the discretion and by the grace of God. Taking into account all the metaphoric, prophetic and universal stories in parable throughout the Bible we have an expose of our relationship with God (“Them” in Genesis 1) for what we ascertain as about 10,000 years. Our verifiable and sincere science tells us that we have matured for at least 25 million years Earth time. This does not in any way discount the perspective of our relationship with God as told in the Bible.

    I choose to relate as Christian because Jesus the prophesied Messiah brought a Spirit never before witnessed on this Earth. Jesus the Christ taught as the Son of Man/only begotten Son of God by example that the law of divine love works for the health of all of our mankind who as one are in the image of our creator God. Jesus brought something entirely new to the table for us to share on Earth, a direct relationship in each of our spiritual hearts and minds with the Family of God with our Father in Heaven as the authority through the eternal baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus spoke that we could actually choose to be no longer of the image of God as children/adults of human kind and could become actual children in the Family of God with Jesus as our Brother and Lord by the authority given of the Father. Is that too complicated a presentation?

    The cross takes two hands and a mighty strong shoulder to carry, can’t get to my sword, but the journey to “The Skull” is so much more free in the true loving Spirit of God as Truth, that serves to work constructively for all, than was the prison of fear within which I once was held captive and tortured as a child of Man.

    In 25 million years my 70 graced years of fleeting mist is not of any significant influential value except to me, mine and God. Jesus’ Spirit on this Earth has an infinite and eternal significant value to all who know that divine relationship. Having been baptized by the Holy Spirit into an eternal relationship bonded by love with God I seek to remove the torture of fear from all the receptive hearts and minds who don’t yet know the Advocate.

    Thank you Pastor Zahnd for speaking boldly in the name of Jesus our Lord!

  • Steve Rose

    of course you don’t see Paul giving Rome carte blanch, ’cause that’s not the context – again, the context is for the Jewish Christians to behave themselves or face consequences. My point is American Christians can’t use Romans 13, as many have, as justification for our government’s actions. If anything, Romans 13 is only applicable to us as citizens of the U.S. to not break laws. And it’s entirely correct for any of us to judge a brother, a la Matthew 7, to discern faith. The blog could easily have been titled, “You can’t be a Christian and beat your wife/love porn/cheat on your taxes…” Our lives are up for discernment and examination when we claim to follow Christ.

  • Andrew Dowling

    We have Sadam weapons during the Iraq-Iran war. Point proven.

  • This piece — “Going to Hell with the Terrorists and Torturers” — is just tremendous!

  • Ameritianity


  • Captain America, you just went well beyond a reasonable amount of comments. Feel free to post away on your own blog.

  • Ameritianity

    Brian, it looks like you deleted your post where you said “The CIA acknowledged that 26 of those they tortured were held in error and posed no threat. There have been no apologies.” … and you deleted my response where I said ”

    could suppose that they did not know they were held in error and posed
    no threat when they were taken into custody. Even the local police take
    suspects into custody for minor crimes. Our CIA was dealing with the
    aftermath of an attack involving the hijacking of aircraft and flying
    them into commercial buildings and our Pentagon. 3000 Americans had been
    killed. As one of our Supreme Court Justices said yesterday, there is
    no rule book that covers limitations our nation used when the lives of
    millions is at stake.

    the way, if someone entered your church and killed 20 people, and may
    want to kill more, are you telling me that you would not support taking
    suspects into custody in hopes of finding the killers and preventing
    more death? Are you telling me that your church does not have men who
    work security for the protection of your worshipers…and may even carry
    a weapon?

    CIA acknowledged that 26 of those they tortured” – I’m betting they
    didn’t say “tortured” and therefore your statement is false.

  • I didn’t delete any of my comments. I deleted yours without reading it. I just thought, “this guy has said enough and I’m not going to let him clog up the comment section.”

  • Ameritianity

    Actually you did delete your post. You are a pastor and you lie like that?

  • No, I didn’t. It’s still there. I just looked.

  • Ameritianity

    I would like to interview live on my radio program. Would you be open to that. We could discuss safety and defense of America.

  • Josh Duncan
  • “[D]iscernment and examination” only after you get the log out of your own eye (Matthew 7:3).
    Good luck with that.

    And if Romans 13 — as well as the rest of the Bible — only applies to a certain people of a certain time and place, it stops being relevant for us today.

  • As Fr. Stephen Freeman said…

    They are all laughing at us…all the time. They are servants of the princes of this world. It is, however, not the last laugh.

    And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the
    commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid
    themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to
    the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him
    who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! “For the great
    day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

  • Steve Rose

    You’re right Joe…all of the Bible is always applicable to all people of all time. Therefore I today renounce ever eating pork or shellfish again, wearing a shirt of 2 types of fabric woven together, and of ever owning a slave…oh wait, I can have an indentured servant so long as I treat him/her right according scripture, so let me think of who owes me money…ridiculous. That scripture is viewed through basic rules of interpretation such as time, place, etc…does little to do with its relevance. Good grief…

  • michael

    Brilliant. This absolutely starts to get to the heart of the corrupt nature of American Evangelicalism. You also cannot be Christian and support police brutality. Next post.

  • What covenant are you living under? The New, or the Old?
    Those living under the New Covenant are called Christians.
    Good grief …

  • Steve Rose

    have a nice day Joe – signed a New Covenant Christian who thinks grace, mercy and love of the New Covenant trumps torture every time.

  • Grace, mercy and love of the New Covenant trumps torture, but they all trump death at the hands of a hellfire missile.
    Every time.

  • astrodemigod

    I think your quite mistaken. The Islamic people were responsible for many things.

    1 The story goes that an Arab named Khalid was tending his goats in the Kaffa region of southern Ethiopia, when he noticed his animals became livelier after eating a certain berry. He boiled the berries to make the first coffee. Certainly the first record of the drink is of beans exported from Ethiopia to Yemen where Sufis drank it to stay awake all night to pray on special occasions. By the late 15th century it had arrived in Mecca and Turkey from where it made its way to Venice in 1645. It was brought to England in 1650 by a Turk named Pasqua Rosee who opened the first coffee house in Lombard Street in the City of London. The Arabic qahwa became the Turkish kahve then the Italian caffé and then English coffee.

    2 The ancient Greeks thought our eyes emitted rays, like a laser, which enabled us to see. The first person to realise that light enters the eye, rather than leaving it, was the 10th-century Muslim mathematician, astronomer and physicist Ibn al-Haitham. He invented the first pin-hole camera after noticing the way light came through a hole in window shutters. The smaller the hole, the better the picture, he worked out, and set up the first Camera Obscura (from the Arab word qamara for a dark or private room). He is also credited with being the first man to shift physics from a philosophical activity to an experimental one.

    3 A form of chess was played in ancient India but the game was developed into the form we know it today in Persia. From there it spread westward to Europe – where it was introduced by the Moors in Spain in the 10th century – and eastward as far as Japan. The word rook comes from the Persian rukh, which means chariot.

    4 A thousand years before the Wright brothers a Muslim poet, astronomer, musician and engineer named Abbas ibn Firnas made several attempts to construct a flying machine. In 852 he jumped from the minaret of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba using a loose cloak stiffened with wooden struts. He hoped to glide like a bird. He didn’t. But the cloak slowed his fall, creating what is thought to be the first parachute, and leaving him with only minor injuries. In 875, aged 70, having perfected a machine of silk and eagles’ feathers he tried again, jumping from a mountain. He flew to a significant height and stayed aloft for ten minutes but crashed on landing – concluding, correctly, that it was because he had not given his device a tail so it would stall on landing. Baghdad international airport and a crater on the Moon are named after him.

    5 Washing and bathing are religious requirements for Muslims, which is perhaps why they perfected the recipe for soap which we still use today. The ancient Egyptians had soap of a kind, as did the Romans who used it more as a pomade. But it was the Arabs who combined vegetable oils with sodium hydroxide and aromatics such as thyme oil. One of the Crusaders’ most striking characteristics, to Arab nostrils, was that they did not wash. Shampoo was introduced to England by a Muslim who opened Mahomed’s Indian Vapour Baths on Brighton seafront in 1759 and was appointed Shampooing Surgeon to Kings George IV and William IV.

    6 Distillation, the means of separating liquids through differences in their boiling points, was invented around the year 800 by Islam’s foremost scientist, Jabir ibn Hayyan, who transformed alchemy into chemistry, inventing many of the basic processes and apparatus still in use today – liquefaction, crystallisation, distillation, purification, oxidisation, evaporation and filtration. As well as discovering sulphuric and nitric acid, he invented the alembic still, giving the world intense rosewater and other perfumes and alcoholic spirits (although drinking them is haram, or forbidden, in Islam). Ibn Hayyan emphasised systematic experimentation and was the founder of modern chemistry.

    7 The crank-shaft is a device which translates rotary into linear motion and is central to much of the machinery in the modern world, not least the internal combustion engine. One of the most important mechanical inventions in the history of humankind, it was created by an ingenious Muslim engineer called al-Jazari to raise water for irrigation. His 1206 Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices shows he also invented or refined the use of valves and pistons, devised some of the first mechanical clocks driven by water and weights, and was the father of robotics. Among his 50 other inventions was the combination lock.

    8 Quilting is a method of sewing or tying two layers of cloth with a layer of insulating material in between. It is not clear whether it was invented in the Muslim world or whether it was imported there from India or China. But it certainly came to the West via the Crusaders. They saw it used by Saracen warriors, who wore straw-filled quilted canvas shirts instead of armour. As well as a form of protection, it proved an effective guard against the chafing of the Crusaders’ metal armour and was an effective form of insulation – so much so that it became a cottage industry back home in colder climates such as Britain and Holland.

    9 The pointed arch so characteristic of Europe’s Gothic cathedrals was an invention borrowed from Islamic architecture. It was much stronger than the rounded arch used by the Romans and Normans, thus allowing the building of bigger, higher, more complex and grander buildings. Other borrowings from Muslim genius included ribbed vaulting, rose windows and dome-building techniques. Europe’s castles were also adapted to copy the Islamic world’s – with arrow slits, battlements, a barbican and parapets. Square towers and keeps gave way to more easily defended round ones. Henry V’s castle architect was a Muslim.

    10 Many modern surgical instruments are of exactly the same design as those devised in the 10th century by a Muslim surgeon called al-Zahrawi. His scalpels, bone saws, forceps, fine scissors for eye surgery and many of the 200 instruments he devised are recognisable to a modern surgeon. It was he who discovered that catgut used for internal stitches dissolves away naturally (a discovery he made when his monkey ate his lute strings) and that it can be also used to make medicine capsules. In the 13th century, another Muslim medic named Ibn Nafis described the circulation of the blood, 300 years before William Harvey discovered it. Muslims doctors also invented anaesthetics of opium and alcohol mixes and developed hollow needles to suck cataracts from eyes in a technique still used today.

    11 The windmill was invented in 634 for a Persian caliph and was used to grind corn and draw up water for irrigation. In the vast deserts of Arabia, when the seasonal streams ran dry, the only source of power was the wind which blew steadily from one direction for months. Mills had six or 12 sails covered in fabric or palm leaves. It was 500 years before the first windmill was seen in Europe.

    12 The technique of inoculation was not invented by Jenner and Pasteur but was devised in the Muslim world and brought to Europe from Turkey by the wife of the English ambassador to Istanbul in 1724. Children in Turkey were vaccinated with cowpox to fight the deadly smallpox at least 50 years before the West discovered it.

    13 The fountain pen was invented for the Sultan of Egypt in 953 after he demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes. It held ink in a reservoir and, as with modern pens, fed ink to the nib by a combination of gravity and capillary action.

    14 The system of numbering in use all round the world is probably Indian in origin but the style of the numerals is Arabic and first appears in print in the work of the Muslim mathematicians al-Khwarizmi and al-Kindi around 825. Algebra was named after al-Khwarizmi’s book, Al-Jabr wa-al-Muqabilah, much of whose contents are still in use. The work of Muslim maths scholars was imported into Europe 300 years later by the Italian mathematician Fibonacci. Algorithms and much of the theory of trigonometry came from the Muslim world. And Al-Kindi’s discovery of frequency analysis rendered all the codes of the ancient world soluble and created the basis of modern cryptology.

    15 Ali ibn Nafi, known by his nickname of Ziryab (Blackbird) came from Iraq to Cordoba in the 9th century and brought with him the concept of the three-course meal – soup, followed by fish or meat, then fruit and nuts. He also introduced crystal glasses (which had been invented after experiments with rock crystal by Abbas ibn Firnas – see No 4).

    16 Carpets were regarded as part of Paradise by medieval Muslims, thanks to their advanced weaving techniques, new tinctures from Islamic chemistry and highly developed sense of pattern and arabesque which were the basis of Islam’s non-representational art. In contrast, Europe’s floors were distinctly earthly, not to say earthy, until Arabian and Persian carpets were introduced. In England, as Erasmus recorded, floors were “covered in rushes, occasionally renewed, but so imperfectly that the bottom layer is left undisturbed, sometimes for 20 years, harbouring expectoration, vomiting, the leakage of dogs and men, ale droppings, scraps of fish, and other abominations not fit to be mentioned”. Carpets, unsurprisingly, caught on quickly.

    17 The modern cheque comes from the Arabic saqq, a written vow to pay for goods when they were delivered, to avoid money having to be transported across dangerous terrain. In the 9th century, a Muslim businessman could cash a cheque in China drawn on his bank in Baghdad.

    18 By the 9th century, many Muslim scholars took it for granted that the Earth was a sphere. The proof, said astronomer Ibn Hazm, “is that the Sun is always vertical to a particular spot on Earth”. It was 500 years before that realisation dawned on Galileo. The calculations of Muslim astronomers were so accurate that in the 9th century they reckoned the Earth’s circumference to be 40,253.4km – less than 200km out. The scholar al-Idrisi took a globe depicting the world to the court of King Roger of Sicily in 1139.

    19 Though the Chinese invented saltpetre gunpowder, and used it in their fireworks, it was the Arabs who worked out that it could be purified using potassium nitrate for military use. Muslim incendiary devices terrified the Crusaders. By the 15th century they had invented both a rocket, which they called a “self-moving and combusting egg”, and a torpedo – a self-propelled pear-shaped bomb with a spear at the front which impaled itself in enemy ships and then blew up.

    20 Medieval Europe had kitchen and herb gardens, but it was the Arabs who developed the idea of the garden as a place of beauty and meditation. The first royal pleasure gardens in Europe were opened in 11th-century Muslim Spain. Flowers which originated in Muslim gardens include the carnation and the tulip.

  • Ameritianity


  • Hi Ameritianity, rather than writing a response to you here I wrote blog because I get this question often. Here’s my 2 bits:

    I affirm the separation of church and state often support that separation because I have strong opinions about public issues that effect all people in the public realm. As Christians we can’t obey Jesus (Matt 28:20) without caring about the politics that effect the people around us, especially the most vulnerable (Matt 25:31-46)….

    In the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, where I previously served as a peacebuilder and missionary, one of the major historical issues for indigenous people (IP’s) and Islamic IP’s was land taken from them unjustly, but through government law. In the 1940’s if a Filipino from the northern island of Luzon applied for a land grant on the island of Mindanao he would be freely granted up to 24 hectares. But, if IP’s from Mindanao applied for that same land (which was occupied by them already and had been for 1000’s of years) they would be granted 12 or less hectares of land by the national Government. The IP’s of Mindanao were assimilated in their own land through these unjust just laws. How can I care about Indigenous people, or Muslims in the Philippines who don’t have enough land to feed their kids, or make enough money to educate their children without addressing this systematic injustice? It’s impossible. We need to hold the unjust system accountable with our neighbors…. Read the rest of it here:

    The alternative to torture is going to your enemies and asking him whats wrong and if you can honestly address that injustice together…Trust me it works… The church isn’t called to be pro state or anti-state, but pro-justice.

  • My Grandfather in-law is a Mennonite and was a German army captain in WW2. After the war he repented of the German Nationalism that lead him into the military in the first place. Anyway, he became a very outspoken peace activist with MCC and during his speeches he would always say through a thick german accent. “You can’t love your enemy and pull the trigger.” Thx for jogging my memory.
    This is a link to his last public speech…its super powerful.

  • No, not torture. Not punishment. Self-inflicted isolation by choice. You become more human by walking with the Spirit or less human by walking with yourself, essentially becoming a god unto yourself. Ultimately, the latter leads to total, eternal isolation—in total darkness, not light. Totally uncool. You could view it as self-inflicted torture, maybe. I don’t know. But God takes no enjoy in the destruction of the humans he created.

  • Rethinking Hell does not change anything. It is not ours to change. Not exactly.

  • Interesting thread of thought, the same thread of nationalism was being used by german Christians to fight against America in WW2. German Christians killing American Christians…what a messed up situation… I think I read a quote somewhere saying that if we were able to get Christians who claim to be part of the multinational family of God to stop killing one another then half of histories dead would have died peacefully. What a terrible thought. Jesus’ give us the strength to repent with the submission of our spirits and the activity of our will.

  • Yes, it’s clear that the report’s intent is to condemn for treating prisoners no worse, if not strictly better, than our own armed forces.


    Thanks for your response Darnell. Yes, each situation and circumstance provide variable responses. My point is that we need to DEFINE terms when we are speaking about things like the “Separation of Church and State.” For example, I find it interesting that in the USA we have laws against murder, theft, lying under oath, and numerous other things which line up with Christianity. Yet, even when the majority in America believe that it should also be against the law to allow abortion on demand or for men to marry men, the arguement that is used against banning it is that “you don’t have the right to impose your religion on others” even though the morality of doing certain things has nothing SPECIFICALLY to do with Christianity. To me that would be a misuse of the “Separation” theory.

    I also do not believe that America was established upon a foundation void of faith. We are clearly established upon a Judeo-Christian foundation. In fact, it has taken Humanism (another religion) 150 years to get people to believe that America is 100% secular. Now it seems that the only “religion” allowed to have an impact on government is Humanism. America is free because we are established on Chrstian belief. However, you will not learn this from history books written in the past 50 years or so. People don’t even know there was a “Humanist Manifesto” nor do they know who John Dewey was nor what the Humanist plan has been for over 100 years. They are succeeding.

    “The alternative to torture is going to your enemies and asking him whats wrong and if you can honestly address that injustice together…Trust me it works… The church isn’t called to be pro state or anti-state, but pro-justice.” – and if this doesn’t work, we can certainly defend ourselves, our family, and our nation. I know of ZERO instances in which our first national response to ANYTHING has every been to torture.

    We are told there will be “…wars and rumors of war…” – There is and will be EVIL in the world that cannot be reasoned with, like Goliath and his army which was to be destroyed.

    Thanks for the discussion. I am glad that, despite our imperfections, the USA has been blessed to be a nation that remains free and capable of providing the resources needed to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to those in the world who God has prepared to hear it.

    (PS: I have been asked to take my comments elsewhere so this may not be seen here for long)

  • Joshua Holmes

    Six-day creation is literal; loving your enemies is not. LMAO

  • This is wonderful. Thank you for sharing this with me.

  • Well, it’s *not* well-documented that it’s the same (or milder) techniques. I only found out because I was researching post-traumatic stress disorder on Medline, and the only secular-ethical way to get primary data on what’s going on medically is to use our own soldiers’ training as the “experiment”.

    That said, it’s clear that any reasonably literal interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount indicates that the jobs that are defined as organized force (police and military) do not have close analogs in the Kingdom of God. It shouldn’t surprise us that administering the required job training for those, is antithetical to the Kingdom of God.

    As for “a Christian in a fundamentally un-Christian job” (e.g., the U.S. President; that’s really what those drone strike orders are about, the alternatives are just as antithetical to the Kingdom of God) — that is such a perfect match for the doctrine of Purgatory. Just punt ditching all job-required character traits and habits that make the presence of God pure agony into the afterlife. (!)

  • paul nevison

    this comment section is a perfect example of why there should be no comment section

  • Andrew of MO

    “I think the interrogators at Gitmo were also trying to preserve a nation under siege as best they could.”

    Wow. Really? You believe that?

  • Andrew of MO

    I think I am looking at the pathetic bleatings of a coward, Joe DeCaro, who wets himself imagining the supervillains like KLM coming to kill him, and is so glad Bad Daddy raped KLM to keep him safe in his cozy wozy bed.

    I think you would be the first to scream about “your rights” if you ever found yourself bagged, blindfolded, and beaten. I also bet you would tell the people questioning you anything you want to hear, true or not. But you don’t have to worry about that, because, after all, you are the right color, and the right nationality!

  • Andrew of MO

    Joe, David is not Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ TRUMPS David! David is NOT CHRISTIAN!

    (Reading you is infuriating. It is like Fox News in concentrated form.)

  • AnAtheist

    Thanks for this, Brian. I was raised going to Church, and that experience had a profound impact on the development of my sense of ethics, but the nitpicky, strident focus of self-proclaimed “Christians” on the minutiae of other people’s private behavior, and the willingness to ignore massive human rights issues in the name of a confused, Jesus-conflated national/self interest, drove me away from the religion. If we had a dominant Christian discourse in the vein that you are suggesting (rather than the self-righteous, judgmental one that prevails), you might win a few people back. Not me, as I’m an atheist, and suspect that I always was at heart, but I would be a lot less vocally opposed to Christianity as a general practice if I heard more principled, self-reflective, Christ-like stands against barbaric behavior. For whatever this is worth, coming from a confessed atheist, I always
    had the impression that being Christian was about your
    willingness to suffer in order to protect others from suffering (something I still hold to, without the mystical aspects), so seeing such a beautiful tenet perverted into calls to make someone else suffer needlessly
    for our beliefs, safety, and convenience has made me sick at heart. As someone who has worked with torture and genocide survivors, it’s nice to finally read something that reflects back on the feelings I had about Christianity when I was young. Thank you.

  • Thanks for your writing. Your recent *Farewell to Mars* is super relevant here in the Philippines and I’ve been sharing it around on Kindle as much as I can.

    Keep teaching Jesus message! It always leads to hope and faith!

    Darnell Barkman
    +63 939 924 2193

  • Thank you.

  • I was having this conversation with someone else this afternoon and a similar point came up:

    In the world there are no good guys and bad guys only those who are reconciled to God and those who aren’t. God treats the just and the unjust the same, he gives them rain and sunshine. (Matt 5:45) If a person is reconciled with God they are part of the family of God and our brothers who we are called to love and give ourselves to until death (There is no greater love than giving ourselves to another in death). If they are not reconciled with God we, as disciples, are to do whatever we can to point them to the perfect love of Jesus. Killing or torturing is not witnessing for Jesus, it’s doing the very evil that Jesus came to stop. We are Christ’s body on earth, how can his body torture while his head has limitless love for both friend and enemy? Thoughts?

  • David, I understand this theology all too well. I’ve read and heard Andrew Farley who propagates this quite a bit. I am sad because these types of answer come to always judge me as “not born again”, “in bondage”, “legalist”, whether you or Farley or his FB friends meant to imply. In my attempts to dialogue I was even blocked from commenting on His page. So much for demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit, I guess.

    I never once have meant to say that anything I do brings or keeps my salvation. To be quite frank, that understanding that once someone talks about living like Christ implies legalism is an gross misinterpretation of Christ and the apostles writings.

    Let’s forget about legalism, forget about what happens if you try to live a life according to Christ’s commands. Once we become children of God (as you equate that with salvation, and I do too, in a degree), we can’t help but start to live like the king.

    We understand how a life of drunkeness, adultery, stealing, anger, evil, killing is damaging to us and to other human beings, therefore we consciously decide to turn away from those things. It’s the most sensible thing to do. It has absolutely zero, nada to do with me becoming good enough to earn anything from God. I don’t know why you insist that I am saying that. It has zero, nada, absolutely positively NOTHING that I can do that will grant me salvation besides believing in (which implies choosing as my Lord and Savior) Jesus Christ.

    Second, and that’s the part that Farley, you and many many others don’t understand. It’s wrong to start now legalizing this fact by asking us, “well, then how’s [attempting to live a holy life] different than the Old Covenant?” or “how much holy living are you talking? Can you measure? If you mess up in one point the bible says you broke the law.” or “Our righteous acts are like filthy rags.”

    Those are all questions that people with a legalistic framework themselves impose on us. It doesn’t matter if I do one righteous act all my life or one billion, or even if I die like the thief on the cross without doing anything good whatsoever, I’m still a child of the King.

    However, as a child of the king I will choose to turn away from evil and into His light. I’ll choose to love instead of hate, because it makes good sense and it helps my fellow man when I decide not to blow their brains out.

    I will say this, and perhaps this is what you are clinging on… if a lifestyle differs in absolutely nothing from the world, if one still commits adultery left and right, is a drunkard, hits hits wife, children, steals when they get a chance, it doesn’t matter that they’ve once said, “Lord, Lord” once and “got saved”… by their fruits we can pretty much guess they are really not living as a saved person. That’s the maturity lesson that Hebrews, Corinthians and Ephesians are trying to paint, I can guarantee that if the thief had come down from that cross he would have lived like a different person. If he had come down from the cross and continued killing, stealing, being evil, it’s probably a sign that “they were never of us”.

    I know however that this last paragraph will be used to accuse me of heresy in many circles I try to share this in. It’s because the soteriology of these people are based on some magical formula that chanting “I believe in Jesus Christ” is like a mythological spell that implies “now that I’ve said those words that means I’m saved.” To be perfectly honest, this type of understanding of salvation is the legalistic one, not my own.

  • Again, Boyd here, but you probably think he’s a legalist as well:

  • Ameritianity

    The difference between peacemakers and peacekeepers. The difference between just an unjust. The difference between chaos and order. The difference between good and evil. The difference between a nation whose land is healed and one whose is not shows that God does not treat everyone the same. David did not do wrong when he defeated Goliath and then went on to destroy his evil empire.

    In any nation that is led by Godly leaders, everyone does benefit in someways. Even the word tells us to turn out brothers and sisters who refuse to turn from sin … For their own good and for the good of the Church.


    Not only is the Christian to submit himself to God, he is to be subject to those agencies which God has authorized and ordained. Only in his submission to these is he showing true submission to God.

    The Christian is a citizen of two kingdoms – one earthly and one heavenly. Some would argue that since our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), we have no obligation to any earthly government. The apostle Paul, who penned the preceding passage, certainly did not limit his citizenship to heaven. He was a citizen of both Rome (Acts 22:26-29) and the kingdom of our Lord (Colossians 1:13), and obviously did not see an impossible conflict.

    An attempt was made to ensnare Jesus on this same subject by the Pharisees (Matthew 22:15-22). Jesus, however, showed that instead of a conflict of duties, there was perfect harmony. He not only escaped the snare, but in his answer, he laid down a law for all time, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” Christians, disciples of Jesus, those who are obedient to God, should take their stand for law, for loyalty, and for order.


    Both the Old and New Testaments state vividly that earthly rulers have authority from God. “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever; for wisdom and might are his. And he changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Daniel 2:20-21). To Nebuchadnezzar the statement is made, “. . . for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, Power, and strength, and glory” (Dan. 2:37).

    In the New Testament Jesus makes it clear to Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (John 19:11). Paul, an apostle of God and a Roman citizen, writes to the Roman church, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Romans 13:1-2). In verse 4 of the same passage the apostle twice refers to civil power as “the minister of God,” and repeats the thought again at verse 6.

    Clearly civil government is ordained of God. Anarchy is not the Father’s will for men.



    The Christian in a democratic society has the great privilege of helping in the formation of good government. He can vote on issues, help elect good officials, and assist in the influencing of proper legislation. To this writer, such should not only be seen as a privilege, but also as a duty.

    Since the government is to punish the evil doer (Rom 13:3-4), the citizen has the privilege of enjoying a sense of security brought about by law and order. While enjoying this privilege, the Christian will do those things which contribute to the preservation of law and order.

    Another precious privilege is the right to due process. It is not wrong for the Christian citizen to respectfully demand his right under the law (Acts 25:6-12).

    And, certainly, the Christian can exercise his right to protection (Acts 23:12-35) as well as make his legal defense when accused (Acts 24:10).

  • Curt

    No, only God Almighty is righteous enough to torture someone. Man is unrighteous therefore he cannot make such a judgment.

  • Curt

    Baloney. The Bible clearly says that hell is a place of torments.

  • You will absolutely disagree with this but never the less I wonder if the idea can at the least give some context to the other side.

    There is a clear need to submit to the state and the state is afforded the power by God to carry out His judgement/wrath/ whatever word you want here.

    The key difference for a lot of people would be that since the call on the state and the call on the church are different Christians shouldn’t place themselves as agents of the state. How deeply people feel that will vary from not running for office all the way to not voting at all.

    Some of the examples you use from the old testament are from a time when God was a God of Israel (a state) and His people were agents of that state.

    Jesus call to a new way of living and His new covenant called for a new look on the world. Not a tribal (national) view but one centre on our identity as Christ followers first. So our alegiance is to Jesus teaching and His call before anything the state may or may not do. so in that sense it means we must always love, no matter who they are/doing/said/etc. It’s a love period, not a love if and so violence and torture are inconsistent with the view.

    So what about a Christian solider or police officer? Some would see that as incompatible in the sense that it goes against the lived out principals Jesus has called us too.

    What about rights around safety, or any right for that matter? Many would see following Christ as an abandonment of our rights just as he did when he abandoned his rights as God and was crucified. So while we may have rights afored us by the State, it can be argued what shoulnd’t be acting on those as Christ followers, or at the very least clinging to them.

  • Ameritianity

    Actually, Jesus submitted to the power of Caesar and specifically stated that his power and authority came from God.

  • “Ameritianity” you’ve shared you opinions on the comment section of my blog enough now. Please move along. Thank you.

  • No.

  • We definatly read our bibles differently on those points and interpret the application of those verses into our lives diffrently.

    When the teaching of Jesus, especially matt 5-7, conflicts with the leadership of the state’s actions that are unjust and unrighteous (like killing an innocent man on a cross) I will stand with Jesus teaching and his way.

    Im a missionary in the Philippines. Blatant injustice is rampant. Graft, corruption, extrajudicial killings and the misuse of the military are common tools used by political leaders to take what they want. When Jesus says his kingdom is here that means I expect and live Jesus’ standard with my christian community and hold the gov. to that standard for all people. Jesus standards are always more athoritative than elected leaders. They were give a job to order creation and maintain that order and if they don’t maintain order justly, but create injustice I instead follow Jesus. By loving God and our neighbor as the highest law I will by default obey the laws of the land and disobey the injustice and powerplays of leaders who are not living up to Gods new covenant standard and example in Jesus life.
    Like Brian said if the Gov says kill, Jesus says lay down your life. If the gov says the powerful make the rules, Jesus says the most powerful will be the servant of all.
    Philippians 2:1-11 says all this and more.

    I take Jesus as lord because he is the one who has the athory over my life to instruct my actions. If his instructions conflict with national leaders then I choose the way of my Lord.



    Not allowed to respond.

  • Darcy Baxter

    This article is well-written. As a former Christian who still recognizes the potential of the American Christian community to accomplish great things, I applaud this piece. I hope it is widely read and changes the minds of people who have become bloodthirsty from years of indoctrination in faux Christian nationalism.

  • Kamal Fahmi

    You can not be a Christian and support terrorism. Over 5000 were killed last month from Islamic Jehadist according to a BBC report. You can not be a christian and do nothing to stop the atrocities happening to your fellow human beings. How will Jesus respond to beheading of innocent and rape and enslavement of women and massacre of children?

  • Ass picker

    An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth a life for a life. A billion years on a star is nothing compared to an eternity in hell.

  • Stephen Smith

    We have been thru hell ,acquiring knowledge. With this knowledge comes understanding. The understanding being that this is Eden. What then shall we do? Continue on as always knowing this is quiet possibly Heaven! Become more Heavenly, kill them with kindness. We can agree to disagree we don’t have to die for it, there is a better way.

  • Ray McCracken

    If God sends people to hell then he does not do what he told us to do, “forgive”. In addition if there are people in hell, Jesus failed. He is not the “Savior of the World; perhaps, he could only save some of us. How can God not forgive? How can love not win?

  • Ray McCracken

    But the bible and the Church does not say that anyone is there.

  • kristeniglesias

    Check out this response: “WWJT: Who Would Jesus Torture?”

  • Greg

    Probably the same way He would respond to nuking a city with men, women, and children. Or that 4000 children EACH DAY are killed in America through abortion, the terrorism of the womb.

  • HyperSpiral

    I agree with this article, but the attitude you’re criticizing isn’t a result of national self-interest superseding the teachings of Jesus. In this case national self-interest AND the teachings of Jesus are BOTH superseded by a stupid, sadistic masturbatory fantasy about being a big tough manly man like Jack Bauer and not a wimpy liberal.

  • John Hutchinson

    Although I totally agree with your position, I think that the grounds of it are not solid. It appeals too much on the emotive and not the judicial/ethical.

    (A) There was no due process to determine that the so-called terrorists were terrorists.
    (2 or 3 witnesses, the matter be established)

    (B) The foreigner, in the custody of the nation’s governors, are being treated differently than would be the case of a recognized member of the nation.
    (no respecter of persons)

    Both judicial principles can be found in Old and New Covenants.

    The fact that some of these EIT’s took place off of U.S. soil, leads to
    the politico-ethical dilemma. If these EITs could be justified because
    they did not happen on U.S. soil, then under whose jurisdictional rights
    did these EITs occur? Did therefore U.S. imperialize a foreign
    nation’s territory in order to conduct these EITs, that it wouldn’t dare perform on U.S.

    (C) Proverbs 17:15 re Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent

    Do not some of the torture practices fall under 1 Corinthians 6, Galatians 5, Revelation 22?

  • Greenbean950

    Pastor Zahnd, what a breath of fresh air. There is simply no way to follow the Messiah and use means He rejected. I found this article by way of an article in The Federalist – an absolutely scandalous subversion of Jesus’ teachings. Your original title included “a”? Put it back, it belongs there.

  • John Hutchinson

    You are setting a false dichotomy. It is saying Hitler was justified compared to Stalin or vice versa. Yes. I concur that doing nothing against evil is just a criminal as doing something evil. And a person and community has the right to defend another, even if it must require the death of others. However, torture goes beyond the necessary and the respectful of human dignity. (I deem the necessary death of an adversary in the defense of others as respectful of human dignity.)

    Furthermore, even where an individual case can be proven to save lives, the overall effect of a torture policy is to create a martyr complex, which gives moral supremacy to the other side, or at least diminishes the moral authority of one’s own side. I saw this in Canada 1970, with the War Measures Act. After a few kidnappings and one death, the Cdn PM rounded up political enemies and jailed many for over a year, without them ever coming to trial and without any criminal basis for the incarceration. I said at the time, that the political party of these “political enemies” would have an ace to play in order to come to power, which they did in 1976.

  • Again…depends on which Greek we’re looking at. It does not help that our main authority are parables and apocalyptic literature. (Revelation 19:20-20:15; NASB translates Gehenna as “lake of fire” consistently; it is indeed described in terms of torments) First into Gehenna are the Beast and False Prophet, so odds are Gehenna isn’t populated yet.. The comfortable part of Sheol/Hades was populated before the Cruxifixion, but Jesus emptied it somewhen between the Cruxifixion and the Resurrection. (Compare Matthew 27:50-53 with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus at Luke 16:19-31). Tradition has it that Jesus left no-one behind there.

    That leaves the not-so-comfortable part of Sheol/Hades. And that is *not* eternal.

  • Tom Guest

    Brian, For an outsider reading your comment section (to read varying viewpoints), it appears that you can not abide those who make arguments that differ from yours and then go on to defend their POV. This makes you seem small. It also has the additional side effect of diminishing the other points you’ve made in your article. FYI- it is easy to count posts by those who agree w/ you and determine that you don’t ask them to post elsewhere.

  • Greenbean950

    Great article.

  • David Tannen

    Well written article. Thank you for reminding Christians what it means to follow Christ. The comments clearly indicate that you have written a prophetic (the Biblical meaning not the pop-culture/pop-Christian meaning) word to Christians.

  • Herm

    “How will Jesus respond to beheading of innocent and rape and enslavement of women and massacre of children?”

    This is what Jesus did and is doing:

    Carry the cross labeled “King of the Jews”, forgive us who crucified Him for we knew not what we did, send the Advocate to guide our hearts and minds, and teach His disciples (who have picked up the cross) the value of loving their enemy before their enemy can recruit so many ignorant who don’t know the Holy Spirit alive in their hearts and minds. Jesus is responding you just don’t seem to know this in your heart and mind. Truly, love You!

  • MarvLaLone

    I don’t think so, and here is why. Those who are or would be in hell are not being tortured by God, or anyone else. The “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” is sorrow over their choice to reject God and worship themselves or idols instead. God has given humankind the freedom to either choose to love Him, or reject him. Hell is God honoring that choice. I guess we would call it a consequence.

  • larrd

    You should do one on “You can’t be a black man and not love basketball,” Brian.

    Good stuff!

  • larrd

    It’s nice to have folks around who know what we all need to do, ER.

  • larrd

    Perhaps not.

  • larrd

    So, we’re too involved but not involved enough.

    Sounds like you’re the guy with all the answers.

  • larrd

    I’ll refuse my social security if the government returns everything I’ve put into it, plus the amount it would have grown on the stock market.

    I’ll pose a similar challenge. Since you love big government, go to prison for the rest of your life.

  • larrd

    If church and state are separate, as you have affirmed, how could Christ’s body be doing the torturing through state apparatus?

  • larrd

    Wow. You can’t be a Christian and post something like that, Brian.

  • larrd

    And yet they beat their women in the streets and make love to goats in the fields.

    Weird, isn’t it?

  • larrd

    Folks who toot the diversity horn often believe there’s no such thing.

  • Christians don’t all see the need for separation from the state and not blessing all forms of military action. That’s part of the problem.

  • larrd

    From what I can see in this thread, the main problem is cloudy thinking that stems from political ideology guiding religious dogma. You claim you affirm the separation of church and state in one post, yet you claim that when the state tortures, it’s the body of Christ torturing in the next post. It’s getting pretty indecipherable.

  • ramsha

    I only went to the church services one time in my life out of curiosity, and sitting there for an hour and listening to the phony bigoted preacher certainly felt like a Torture.

  • I’ve reviewed your article here ( at the end of which is an article I wrote some years ago for a biblical ethics class I taught that speaks to how a moral society cannot ban all forms of harsh interrogation (a.k.a. torture) and remain morally serious.

    By the way, Christ was not “tortured”. He was tried, convicted, and executed. You have conflated undeserved punishment with torture. Surely you see the difference. Christ did not hide a bomb in the middle of the city.

  • judy pohlod

    Hmm, very interesting that he mentions “any version of Christianity” I’m tired of any group of people making up their own version and judgements and all themselves Christians. I’m tired of so called Christians thinking Jesus would be a republican, yes I’ve actually heard this in my church and on bumperstickers. I’m tired of white southern old men proclaiming to be christians and telling women what to do with their own bodies when they have never put their heart where their mouth is and adopt the thousands of children, many black out of the foster care system, I’m reading a book called, Why Christianity Must Change or Die. Right wing fanatic Christians are driving people away from churces and religon. Jesus is the only one who can judge me and not someone who has ade up their own rules of what Christianity really is.

  • W Dale Dietzman

    Tell it to the Inquisiton. You willo be laughed out of the room.

  • My point is that those who practiced the tortures of the Inquisition were not behaving in a manner that is Christian (Christlike), no matter what they claimed. Sure, you can CLAIM to be Christian and practice torture — it’s been done many times. But you cannot actually BE Christian (Christlike) and support torture. This is the simple argument I have made here.

  • George

    Well torture is what gave us our Savior. After all if we didn’t have the crucifixion and the associated scourging, crown of thrones, the spear, the nailing,and the dragging of the cross, etc. we wouldn’t have the miracle of the resurrection. That is an additional proof of divinity that supports all the other miracles and allows us to celebrate his existence by eating his flesh and drinking his blood on the Sabbath. It’s all very Dionysus like. If the Romans has just thrown him in jail for a month or two and then let him out with a warning what would we have done on Winter solstice?

  • Jim Magdelania

    While i appreciate the sentiment, the simple fact of the matter is, it’s mostly just a no true scottsman logical fallacy. You already pick and choose which parts of the bible you like and follow, preaching at others that they chose the wrong parts of the supposed perfect word of god just doesn’t cut it in the eyes of anyone who isn’t religious.

  • sarahchc

    Don’t be miss led folks. Hell is real and eternal. Jesus speaks of Hell more than a hundred times in the Bible. Hell is the reason why He died for all of us. We believe in Jesus, we have eternal life in Heaven.

  • A couple of comments and a question: First, Jesus was not tortured. The Romans punished Him for violating pax romana – more succinctly, for inciting insurrection. Moreover, he actively sought the punishment as a sacrificial atonement for the sins of mankind. The Romans did not punish Jesus for hiding a bomb in the city nor was He an avowed enemy of Rome. The Roman guards did not promise to stop the punishment if only He would reveal, for example, the names of his companions. There is a huge difference between punishment (a matter of justice) and whatever you mean by “torture” which you completely ignore.

    Second, and with respect, your essay comes off as simple moral preening. Were it otherwise, you would at least have acknowledged that Christians (and Jews) have been reflecting on this question (and other similar issues, “Just War” theory comes to mind) for well over 5 centuries. Moreover, there are reasonable arguments in support of using force to compel a terrorist to commit a moral act. Were you morally serious you would have acknowledge these arguments and argued against them.

    Question: how exactly do you define torture? Part of the reason you are able to get away with this kind of rhetorical silliness is that you do not define the term and, instead, let your readers assume the worst.

    I’ve written and taught on this subject extensively. You may want to have a go at my post here, that I wrote in response to this one.


  • The Pew Research survey (which was the impetus for my article) didn’t define torture; the question was simply, should the U.S. use torture on suspected terrorists.

    But U.S. Federal Law (which prohibits torture) defines torture as “the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering.”



  • MarioRom

    “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29).

    People do not like to think about hell—especially those who are headed there! But that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

  • First, what we’re really talking about is waterboarding by the U.S. government. At least that’s the motivation for all the sound and fury. I would note that the Office of Legal Council (OLC) of the U.S. Department of Justice examined the legal question of whether (and to what extent) waterboarding was illegal and determined that, subject to strict limits, waterboarding was legal under Federal and International Law (see Article 7 of the U.N. charter) . At the very least, the legality of waterboarding is disputable by reasonable and serious people.

    I would begin by noting that, as far as I know, no serious person has ever argued that all forms of torture are legal or moral as you imply. People of good will who disagree with your broad strokes have argued for centuries that there are limits to what the state can do. This is just as true for torture as it is for war (see, for example, Just War Theory). For example, these limits were exceeded by the soldiers who abused their prisoners at Abu Ghraib – soldiers who were subsequently tried, convicted, and sent to prison or dishonorably discharged – hardly the actions of a country that has no limits on the application of torture.

    Your essay, however, discounts the views of serious and faithful Christians who have a point of view opposite yours. And, because they disagree you classify them as non-Christian.

    Back to definitions: if the Pew study didn’t define torture how then is a reader of your essay to make the distinction between pulling out the fingernails of a prisoner of war to make him/her talk and spanking a disobedient child? And, while you are reflecting on the previous hypothetical, would corporal punishment, explicitly supported in scripture, be sanctioned by Jesus Christ? After all, spanking one’s child is entirely consistent with 18 U.S. Code § 2340.

    The problem with your position is that it advances a simplistic and overly broad understanding of torture. It conflates sadism, persecution, and punishment among other things, under the rubric of torture. The foundation of your argument is no different than defining as war, disagreements over say, the merits of Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. As for me, I try not to use the word ‘torture’ in these kinds of discussions unless clearly and unambiguously defined. To do otherwise is to lead to confusion and ambiguity. However if you insist on not defining your terms, so be it. However, just for completeness, I offer my definition of PERMISSIBLE torture to be defensive interrogatory coercion (DIC) whose end is to compel information that will prevent the imminent deaths of many. Of course, DIC has its limits (and you can download the PDF article referenced in my previous reply if you are interested in what I think those limits should be).

    So, 3 questions for you:

    (1) How do you define torture?
    (2) By what means would you prevent the deaths of millions under the “ticking time bomb scenario”?
    (3) Why, in your moral calculus, does expressing love for the terrorist outweigh expressing love for his/her victims?


  • The only thing I’m denying is that the Quran has anything in common with the Bible.

    What part about “two very different books” don’t you understand?

  • Ralph Roberts

    Well put and well researched if you ask me.

  • Ronvent

    UTTER BULL COOKIES! Christianity is BASED on the torture and death of Jesus, an event celebrated by every cross wearing Christian and emblazoned atop every Christian, tax exempt, “House of Worship.” Even today, the “Eucharist” is supposed to be LITERALLY the “Body and Blood” of Jesus. Are we supposed to forget Abraham’s shady walk up the mountain with Lil’ Isaac, or Jeptha’s carelessness with his daughter’s life, or Constantin’s “conversion” techniques, or the Inquisition, Or Giordano Bruno’s BBQ? Or the less than miraculous rape of The Caribbean, and Central and South America? Or Sir Thomas Moore? …Coupla Witch Trials? …Pope Pius Xll’s cosy arrangement with Hitler? Oh, and then there is Hell itself, (“Many are called, but few are chosen.”) not exactly an eternal health spa from what I’ve been taught. Christianity and torture have always gone together like Hell fire and Brimstone. The whole article is based on the “No true Scotsman” fallacy.

  • Ronvent

    Quoting the Bible on Jesus or Hell (or anything else) is like quoting Marvel comics on Superman. Th Bible is an interesting study, perhaps, and may contain some worthwhile parables, etc., but it is UTTERLY devoid of fact. Aesop’s Fables are clearly superior to the Bible in most regards, and they don’t threaten the reader with “Hell.” What a deal of ink has been wasted trying to “Justify the ways of God to man.”

  • Ronvent

    No, ERS, not “rethink.” I suggest “discard.”

  • Ronvent

    My last comment is that only believers blinded by “faith” and by mind-bending apologetics could miss the incredible irony of this self-serving and patently distorted phrase, “Those who call themselves Christian are followers of one who was
    tortured and killed by a superpower supremely committed to its own
    security.” It doesn’t take a biblical scholar (although I think that’s an oxymoron) to read that the “Superpower” who demanded the blood sacrifice of Jesus, the “Lamb of God,” was none other than his own “God the Father.” Something about “….sacrificing his only begotten son….” The Jews, the Romans, even Judas are merely bit players in the mythical – and very ugly – sacrifice DEMANDED by “God” to atone for the sins of man. Some dad the bearded one was, eh?

  • Still sticking to your illogical straw man argument by falsely claiming I said that all Muslims are “radical”.

    All Qurans are radically violent and those who literally believe them tend to become violent towards anyone who doesn’t believe as they do.

    But according to Zahnd, those who believe the “radical” forgiveness of the New Testament tend to become forgiving and develop a sprit that is not in keeping with the “sword verses” of the Quran.

    Of course the Bible and the Quran are two very different books, yet you still can’t see the difference between the people who believe them.

  • For what it’s worth, the Old Testament is far more violent than the Quran.

  • “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties—but right through every human heart and through all human hearts.”

    -Alexander Solzhenitsy, The Gulag Archipelago

  • A Sikh once told me that the Quran reminded her of the worst parts of the Old Testament.

  • As a peacekeeper in Bosnia I worked with Muslims who did everything from cutting my hair to doing my laundry; there’s nothing radical about the mundane, but as you weren’t there, you didn’t see that either.

  • Especially in this conversation about the American world police claim to be the good guys when we can clearly see that illegal torture is happening and therefor americans have completely lost all credibility.

    On the other side, people americans label “terrorists” are also doing evil things and are modivate by the structural and daily evil that goes against them coming from the west. While working as a peacebuilder with oppressed Muslim people in the southern Philippines the first thing I was asked was if i support american foreign policy. In their perspective, they are the good guys and the westernized anti-muslim world are the bad guys or oppressors. So no one is right, but both sides have perceived incompatible goals. At least until they really try and understand one another and not just push agendas with violence.

    Therefore, we need to get ride of the lable. Were christians Jesus and scripture teaches us that all people who aren’t in the family of God are “neighbours.” If we ditch the good guy vs bad guy narrative and start talking about our neighbours and maybe that will effect our childrens perspective of the other.

  • larrd

    Sure it is. I was pointing out the bad.

    I forgot about the head chopper offers. Would you categorize them as good or bad?

    You seem awfully concerned about racism, in any case. Is that a problem you have and how are you dealing with it?

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    You’re changing the subject and launching a brand-new discussion with this comment. Zahnd’s discussion on this blog has always been about what he thinks constitutes obedience to Jesus, NOT U.S. Constitutional law — which, for what it’s worth, also forbids torture as “cruel and unusual punishment.” You can be a law-abiding, flag-waving American hero and imagine that Jesus is fictional; conversely, most of the world’s Christians are not American and do not care any more about America than they do about Sarawak. The birthplace of Christianity was ancient Palestine, not Independence Hall in Pennsylvania. These really are two different sets of loyalties; which means more to you?

  • The God of the Bible and his god-given, inalienable rights are not unrelated; the Constitution just declares these rights, it doesn’t grant them.

    Jesus was born King of Israel, not ancient Palestine, which never had a king or even a distinct culture.

    And according to Justice Anthony Scalia, “enhanced interrogation” is not punishment under the U.S. Constitution.

  • I made several trips to Sarajevo from Eagle Base, Tuzla; I was even on the bridge near where the archduke was assassinated.

  • larrd

    Your own racism is a difficult topic for you to discuss, I see. Maybe you shouldn’t try pointing the finger so much.

    By the by, Islam isn’t a “race.” It seems a little racist to imply that it is.

    Merry Christmas.

  • larrd

    You seem to be attributing Islam and head chopping off to race or skin color or something, Dirt.

    They say such bigotries are never obvious or even evident to true racists. They just think of it as “reality.”

    Is that your experience?

    [sorry brian, I have to point out racism when I see it. I hope you will still pretend to like me. It’s important.]

  • Guest

    I would ask Mr Zahnd, If truth is on your side, why do you need to tell lies? Enhanced interrogation is not “torture” and it certainly isn’t “illegal torture.”
    The Senate 2014 report on torture is nothing but a one sided partisan hit piece.

    For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; *for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil*. (Romans 13:3-4)

  • rolltide

    You speak as though the Romans were the guilty one’s, when it comes to the death/torture of Jesus. This is NOT true. YES, it was the plan of the Father for Jesus to die, but the Jews were probably MORE to blame than were the Romans.
    Who was is that screamed “Give us Barrabas?” Who said, “Let we AND OUR CHILDREN be accursed”? There’s no reason to believe that Pilate wouldn’t have freed Jesus, but the Jews chose to free Barrabas instead, and the Jews STILL have others do their dirty work. The US fights Israel’s wars. You don’t see them sending THEIR OWN sons to battle….NO! Our government is infested with US/Israeli dual-citizens and most of the rest who aren’t are bought by Zionist $$$. Thus, WE fight Israel’s wars. WE do their killing and torture.
    Not much has changed, in that regard since the days of Jesus. The US is Jewry’s “Romans”!

  • Jeffrey

    I wonder if the rich man who was tormented would agree with you …..who simply wanted water. I wonder if the smoke of their torment ascends forever or not? What does the bible say? If you want to read how to become Christian read and obey the book of the Acts of the Apostles…….the rest of the book afterwards was written to the church and you had to be a part of it to begin with to even hear of those letters. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were written to reveal the testators will that went into effect after the death of the testator. Hence the Book of ACTS will show you how to become saved.

  • Jeffrey

    Nope their place is in the Lake of fire where the smoke of their torment goes on….. How long?

  • Jeffrey

    You sound Catholic in your description of Christianity or in what would be considered the use of a argumentative theology. You fail to understand the most expediant use of the sword is to bring an abrupt end to the aggressor. Why torture when sending them to their father would be a better use of resources and time? A compassionate end if you will to evil where ever or in what ever cloak it chooses to hide behind would in a war be the right course. Torture is simply revenge prolonged and vengence is mine saith the LORD. Imagine the reward of hell since it is appointed unto men once to die and then the judgement. Does Revelation 14: 10-11 mean anything to people around here?

  • joseph

    I’m not Christian, I’m ‘Joseph’…You should pull your head out. It is the malevolent use of torture like what Islam does to women…If ‘Mo’ had info I would do what it takes to get it…sorry, but I am at war against the evil in this world…You will not survive because Islam is more brutal than you…Islam is what you hate and you have no idea of how to conquer it…Your leaders in the christian communities have brought all of this down on your heads by falling asleep at the wheel years ago….Either you win or you lose…You don’t know the Bible to say you can not extract info from your enemy. I don’t hate the people, but the ideology turns them into evil animals…Just look at the rape gangs of Sweden. If you do not destroy Islam then Islam will destroy you.

  • Dennis Richmond

    I don’t agree with what they did !!! But I would be lying if I would say that I would never torture can you? If one of my family member was going to be killed and the only way to save them was to torture someone !!! I would no doubt !!!

  • Dennis Richmond

    Your telling me that none of you would sacrifice yourself for a Loved one !!!

  • rick

    What an idiot this person is who wrote this!!! They must have never read the BIBLE!, there are countless stories of bloodshed, David decapitating Goliath (we need to give the Muslims some of their own medicine), Gideon slaughtering, God warning to kill the firstborn, an angel killing 185,000 in one night, and on and on. Read Thomas Sowell’s article on “TORTURED REASONING” THAT basically explains we have lost all common sense, here is a piece of what he states….

    “If you knew that there was a hidden nuclear time bomb
    planted somewhere in New York City — set to
    go off today — and you had a captured terrorist who
    knew where and when, would you not do anything
    whatever to make him tell you where and when? Would you pause to look up the
    definition of “torture”? Would you even care what the definition of
    “torture” was, when the alternative was seeing millions of
    innocent people murdered?”
    We are just a bunch of morons today, we call it common sense, but why? It is SO UNCOMMON, we are just warped. Stephen Mansfield a BIBLE BELT pastor wrote the book “the Faith of Barack Obama” to help sway undecided voters to vote for an anti-God, anti-Israel, pro-socialist, anti-Christian, anti-Christ, pro-Islam, pro-Muslim, anti-Life, MOST PRO-ABORTION PRESIDENT EVER!, pro-MURDER (KILLING UNBORN), worst president ever!
    Folks, this is a so called conservative former pastor in the BIBLE BELT! Stephen Mansfield was then on Hannity & Holmes and Sean Hannity asked him if he would to go a church that put Louis Farrakhan on the cover, and Mansfield stated “No”, and then Sean Hannity said well, Jeremiah Wrights church not only had Louis Farrakhan on the cover of some of their material in the church, but had Barack Obama on the same cover! The church also had material about HAMAS in their church material!! They were not saying HAMAS was bad.
    The Bible said people would call evil good, and good evil. When you sit there like a perverted warped homo and say a Christian cannot torture, you have lost it, you are warped beyond repair!
    I would torture the piece of shit in a heart beat to save my Mother, Father, wife, and children etc., I would not think a nano second, you fricking moron, get your fricking head examined!!!

  • Ray McCracken

    If God sends people to hell or the “Lake of Fire” then he does not do what he told us to do,
    How can God not forgive? How can love not win? Every time God forgives, he breaks all the rules (even in those in scripture) to be in relationship with us. The question for me is if God is loving me, and forgiving me, now, is he going to change his mind and “get me” at the final judgement? Is God schizophrenic?

  • Denton

    There is a difference between a nation and an individual. We individuals are to love those who hate us and consider themselves our enemies. Not the same with nations. To mix the two is to take verses out of context. That being said, there are other things to be considered.
    Is this the same nation created and protected by our forefathers? Can you imagine the congress of today suggesting the Bible as being a book worthy of study in school? Can you imagine a president wanting to spread the Good Word to those who do not know it? What if a chief justice of the U.S. supreme court admonished the citizenry of this nation to elect Christian leaders to lead this Christian nation? These are all a part of our history, and they reflected the attitude of both our leaders as well as the citizenry. What is this nation, today?

    As Christians across the Middle East and Africa face persecution and death every day, our government, the same government that despises Christianity, has opened the floodgates to the very same people who are persecuting our brothers and sisters in their home countries, rather than welcoming into this (once) Christian nation our brothers and sisters who would better understand the foundation of our form of governance rather than strive to replace it with sharia law.

    Our government has become two-faced. As it uses distasteful techniques to extract information from some Muslims, it creates, funds and supports other Islamist groups so that the entire Middle East is destabilized. To what end is all this madness? None of it is Christian; interrogation techniques being the least of the problem.

  • geri

    If it is Palestinian Torture Death and Destruction, It’s A ok with the Phony Zionist Christians

  • Kate

    You, me and ALL of mankind Are,was,and Is to come the beast and false prophet, and of course the anti-Christ. Pray for understanding and it shall be given to you.

  • JustSayin’

    Not so fast, Ray. Jesus never failed. He gives FREE WILL. Your choices are yours, and so are the consequences attached. Everyone gets to that fork in the road. Question is, which road are you going to choose? Can’t blame anyone for your own choice, but we can at least respect that someone gave you that choice.

  • JustSayin’

    If everyone agreed with this author (Brian), then America would have never fought for freedom, and our Constitution would not even exist. To equate torture with being unbiblical is a dangerous assertion. Next thing you know, we will be told that owning a gun is UN-Christian because Jesus never had or used one. Christians should NOT BE DOORMATS. We have every right to exercise our freedoms, and if that means hanging someone upside down and tarring/feathering them for information, (of which many call “torture”), then so be it. I HAVE A RIGHT TO PROTECT MY COUNTRY AND FAMILY. No one, only God, can take that right away. I personally am not persuaded by this article. I respect the author’s view, but his case isn’t very strong.

  • JustSayin’

    Rick: Your statement, “were a little less ready to harm our brothers and sisters of the world,” statement is severely concerning. Then there’s, “we would spend a bit more time worrying about the safety of our fellow member of the human race” statement. Are you serious, man?!?! How in the world would America have become a free nation if people actually thought like you? I suppose we should ask the Patriotic Americans who fought and shed blood for you to have the freedom you have today? Those same folks had to FIGHT and KILL to get what you enjoy today. NOT EVERYONE IS YOUR FRIEND. Perhaps you would think differently if you were a Yazidi living under the torturous conditions of the Muslim enemy. I am sure the fog in your mind would clear up real, real fast. I am a Christian, but I AM NOT A DOORMAT!!

  • I’m not talking about being an American, I’m talking about being a Christian. There’s a big difference between being a follower of Thomas Jefferson and being a follower of Jesus Christ.

  • Rick Smith

    JustSayin, three words here…”Don’t be afraid”. I wonder how many of your enemies are saying these same words and afraid of you because you want to “FIGHT and KILL” them. Do unto others… so far in my life I haven’t had a single fight without walking into it with the attitude of “FIGHT and KILL”. Answer this one question for me, WWJD in your scenario?

  • Rick Smith

    JustSayin, btw I am a doormat.

  • Rick Smith

    If big government returns everything you have paid in you will need to stop using their roads, war machines, social programs, protection, etc. It looks like we might have a deal here.

  • Rick Smith

    and btw… I don’t understand how me going to prison advances your argument. How is me going to prison for the rest of my life relevant?

  • Rick Smith

    You believe that I live in a peaceful nation. Where is it you believe I live?

  • Ray McCracken

    How can God not forgive? How can love not win? Every time God forgives, he breaks all the rules (even in those in scripture) to be in relationship
    with us. He knows about free will and our many bad choices, he knows we need a Savior. The question for me is if I am experiencing God loving me, and forgiving me now, is he going to change his mind and “get me” at the final judgement? Is God schizophrenic? Can God not do what he has commanded us to do, “forgive”. Is God hypocritical?

  • Ray McCracken

    You know the mind of God?

  • Michael Baron

    Hi Brian, I totally agree with your article and I thank you for putting it on paper. No, I can’t imagine Jesus water-boarding someone. I live in the “Belly of the Beast” (Washington, DC Of Course). My questions is how far does this extend? Should someone question their Christianity if they work for some Defense Contractor making weapons for unjust wars. What’s the dividing line or is there one?

  • duhsciple

    If the state tells me to torture someone, nuke another nation, or stuff people on trains and send them to the gas chamber, then count me out. That sounds like the opposite of Jesus to me

  • ALM

    Sir you’re wrong and you know it. That’s because like all human ideologies, religion allows the religious an out. My God is greater than your God.

  • No state told you to do any of the above.

  • duhsciple

    Except, brother Joe, you seem to be contesting Brian’s message and using the Romans 13 shield, underlining the word *all* in your comment to me. Bush-Cheney, wrong about torture. Obama-Biden, wrong about drone warfare. I don’t blame these guys, they are doing what empires do. I just hope the disciples do what they are supposed to do. Empire and the Kingdom are not a good mix, as in we find ways to justify torture.

    Tell me if I’m wrong, but you seem to want Brian and I to agree “you can support torture and be a Christian”. That we cannot do

  • No one is asking you to support “torture,” but as I first posted, “No matter how well-intentioned, ‘You cannot be a Christian and support torture’ translates into ‘Jesus plus'”.
    Or should that have been Jesus minus, as if God only forgives politically correct sins?

    BTW, Pastor Zahnd later dropped the indefinite article and simply posted that “you cannot be ‘Christian’ and support torture.”

  • You cannot be Christlike and support torture. It’s really that simple.

  • Yes, Pastor Zahnd, after you dropped the “a” before Christian, your premise became much more palatable.

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    Sure you can. It’s called moderating, and Brian has every right to moderate his own blog.

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    Who cares what Justice Scalia says is or isn’t torture? Not the medical doctors and scientists, human-rights advocates, or moral theologians who make it a specialty to stay on top of these issues, and to whom the prisoners’ standpoint is worth a hearing. As your persnickety and irritating interlocutors keep insisting, loyalty to any government, including our National Government, cannot be held higher than the moral commands of Jesus, if you want the Christian label to mean anything.

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    Yeah, I get it. Sort of. But I’ve got a problem with this stance of yours. The Jesus movement, which began some 450 years before there was any recognizable Saxon community, let alone an Anglo-American nation, was, and is, no respecter of nation, family, property, or personal interests of any sort. It demands that we look for the face of Jesus in friend and foe alike. I don’t personally pass judgment on any one who kills in self-defense or insists on a right to property bought at fair market value. But every good Christian, and every good follower of any great wisdom tradition (Buddhism, Tao, Sufism, and so on) understands that for every good cause on Earth, there is at least one other cause of equal dignity and worth lined up against it. Private property versus common resources and social justice, the need to crack down on terror versus the rights of often innocent foreign suspects, my life versus that of the confused, morally blameless paranoid schizophrenic who is threatening to kill me. Crying and kicking the furniture about our perceived needs is not going to make those other vital interests go away, or nullify our obligation to them. Patriotism and self-respect are all well and good, but He still said “love your neighbors as yourselves.”

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    I can sympathize with your position; I left a major denomination over its lack of compassion for children — to be precise, its sexual-abuse survivors. I also like the mental hygiene some people of your (dis)belief system practice; we could all use it. But still, this is a Christian blog, and we feel that the Jesus-following business has some fruit to bear.

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    This is a good and well-thought argument, Michael — but watch that slippery slope!!

  • The Christian label, as in “branding”?

    And I do care what a member of the Supreme Court has to say about our Constitution since I had to swear on several occasions to support and defend it against all enemies as well as to bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
    So help me God.

    Apparently that piece of paper holds more meaning for me than it does for you.

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    “Swear to defend it against all enemies…”? When was that? And you haven’t made much of a response to my point about the ultimate Christian loyalty, which, no matter what any government official says, overrides any of these earthly, nation-bound attachments.

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    And here again, the Bill of Rights forbids “cruel and unusual punishment”.

  • Kevin Thomas

    I hope I wouldn’t…I pray I wouldn’t.

  • According to St. Paul, Christians have dual citizenships: a temporary citizenship on earth and an eternal one in heaven (Philippians 3:17-21).

    But as to what government officials say, when was the last time you made a choice between Obama — whom I assume you voted for twice — and Christ?

    After all, our bronze anti-Christ said there was no future for anyone who “slandered” the prophet Mohammed, or are you just as loyal to Barack and his Muslim prophet as you are to our Jewish savior?

    As for me, I personally defended this nation against all enemies during Desert Storm and again a decade later when I was called back to federal service for peace-keeping duties in Bosnia.

  • larrd

    Not at all, Dirt. I made remarks of my own and have no desire to defend anyone else’s. It just seems to me that claiming a religion is a race is a bit bigoted, and I feel compelled to point that out as I can see racism is a concern of yours. I guess it’s just other people’s racism, though, as you seem to be implying that you have every right to call others racist yet your own positions are unassailable.

  • larrd

    I thought we were dealing in ridiculous straw man arguments, Rick. Just as you claim anyone who promotes small government should live without any government, I was making the claim that anyone who promotes bigger government should live under total government control–federal prison.

    It all seems pretty imbecilic, doesn’t it?

  • larrd

    You cannot be a Christian and support Brian’s ‘moderating.’

  • Rick Smith

    Thanks for pointing this out larrd, now I don’t need to say it for you. 🙂 Just remember when you are bringing out the strawman…you are the one that said you want government to return everything to you that you have put in.

  • Billybob

    I believe there are around 1490′ if’s’ in the NT(conditions) if we don’t warn people of their apostasy, we are as quilty as they are……’Jesus Wept’

  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    Against Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction? Or was that when he invaded Kuwait — because that’s what I think of when I read about your going to the Persian Gulf and then to Bosnia ten or so years later.

  • I know what He thinks as He revealed it to us in the scriptures. I find your question as one looking for strife.

  • Desert Storm was George Bush’s (senior) response to Hussein’s (Saddam, not Barack) invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
    My SFOR VII rotation in Bosnia was a decade later.

  • Ray McCracken

    Marcelo, In the 13th Century, Thomas Aquinas warned us of this when he wrote, “If you comprehend God, he is not God. A comprehended God is no God at all.” I am not looking for “strife” but I do like to “rattle the cages” of thoughtful people like yourself who would say things like “I know what He thinks – in scripture”. A good book on the new theology around hell and punishment is ―
    Rob Bell’s,
    “Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived”. Another book which has an imprimatur is “Good Goats – Healing our Image of God by the Matt, Dennis and Sheila Lin.
    Marcelo, you are a seeker and a thinker keep on going.

  • Thank you, Pete.

  • Smack_41


  • Jennifer A. Nolan

    Thanks for the clarification.
    But how many innocent guys named Hussein are there in this country?

  • larrd

    No, I didn’t say I wanted the government to return everything I put in. I said I’d refuse my social security benefits if it did so.

    You need to keep building these straw man arguments to continue, don’t you? To keep changing what others say to make your points. Maybe you should ask yourself why.

  • Rick Smith

    You said you would give up your social security if government gave back everything you have put into it. This sounds like you want it all back, does it not?

  • Rick Smith

    Can you describe a straw man argument?

  • Justmom

    No, hell is chosen with free will. Torture is applied by force.

  • Justmom

    The final judgement will be the choice of each soul.

  • Justmom

    God does not send souls to hell out of a fit of just wrath. God allows souls to willfully choose hell over eternity with God. When souls choose to turn away from God, God does not force them to choose heaven but sorrowfully allows souls to choose.

  • Justmom

    Exactly, those that choose to love torture (and the state itself which deigns to replace the Divine) are free to support evil or love and the consequences of each choice

  • Justmom

    If you ask God’s mercy, you will receive it. But better to be in the habit of begging his mercy than die too proud to beg.

  • Justmom

    Reading comprehension? No such thing as safety from harm for followers of Christ.

  • Justmom

    You need to study history if you think the US has not used torture before 9/11. Remember the US puppet governments of the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Pinochet etc etc

  • Justmom

    What are you saying here? Saudis or Israelis?

  • Justmom

    Great post until that state worship.
    the great centralized government creates poverty.

  • Justmom

    No he didn’t submit. Thus he was killed. What he didn’t do was use violence against the state. Violence is the hallmark of state authority.

  • Justmom

    Why did Jesus ask God to forgive his murderers, if they were duly authorized by God to kill random nonviolent people?

  • Justmom

    Jesus himself never pretended to authority over others. He never ran for political office for the purpose of making “good laws”. God aalready gave us all the rules we need. Jesus distilled those rules down to two.

  • You’re doing good work here.

  • Justmom

    Social security does not pay for roads, gas taxes do (approx 45% of the price per gallon) so if you’re buying gas, you’re paying for roads, government fiscal mismanagement notwithstanding.
    If by protection, you means police, those are paid primarily by property taxes, so if you own or rent, you pay for police.

  • Rick Smith

    Justmom, I wasn’t trying to say that social security pays for these things, our governments (big and small) do…

    And by protection I am speaking of our military and war machines. This is also paid for by government.

    I know someone is going to say, “Well I pay for these things because I pay taxes” and that is mostly true, but my point here is, if you don’t want big government, you most likely won’t have big military either. I’ve met many people who seem to pray to the all powerful military but then are quick to say how much they hate big government. I don’t think you can have it both ways. Perhaps we can do away with big government and get Microsoft or Starbucks to start a military for us. Maybe a Grande Call of Duty…

  • Justmom

    “Government” pays for nothing.

  • Rick Smith

    Justmom, the only worship I will be doing is to my God and Lord…

    I don’t necessarily like government, I just see it for what it is. Since we fail to help the homeless and those in poverty sufficiently, we need government to do it for us. If it was left up to chance or our capitalist nation, I fear a horrific end.

  • Robert Bruce

    Are you kidding me? What threat to our national security was Libya, Somalia, Yemen, or even post 1991 Iraq? Third World states, with a barely functioning military? Like these nations could really harm us. Oh yeah terrorism right? 9/11? Yeah go ahead bud, tell me abunch of Sunnis deemed to dumb to fly by there flight instructors after they couldn’t master a small prop plane after almost 60 hrs of practice could slam 747s into the Twin Towers, like fighter jocks. Why is it so hard for people to believe maybe, just maybe our leaders are in fact greedy and evil? It has been proven that 2008 was pretty much a staged event, brought upon by greed, and that the American taxpayer flipped the bill. How many Americans were totally destroyed financially by this? People can believe that, but can’t believe in false flag operations, even though the CIA has used them multiple times during the Cold War.

  • Justmom

    Best. Comment. Ever.

  • Rick Smith

    Government is supposed to be “the people”, and as such, government does pay for these things…

  • Justmom

    That’s quite a supposition. But I believe we agree in principle.

  • Exactly what are you asking here?

  • Heil Amalek!

    Mr. Zahnd, I’m glad you’re speaking out against these atrocities (though you need to investigate reports that indicate even worse tortures than those that the CIA has admitted to occured — eg. the rape of boys in front of their own parents!). However, please tell me if there are any incidences of Jews torturing Gentiles in the Tanach.

  • FatDaddyBiggs

    There is a difference….the government is given the sword to mete out punishment and to protect citizens.If I am being accosted I turn my cheek and have done it in the past. But come for the weak, come for a women in my care and there is no turning the cheek. Come for a child and i will come to their aid like a badger. The blood of the last battle will flood the streets. Jesus is not meek and mild when it comes to those under his care. Men caught on the battlefield can be questioned using mental persuasions eliciting fear. Our own troops willingly learn how to go through these techniques.
    You are very insightful and I love your writing but you mix individual obedience with governmental ethics. Two very different things. Very similar to comparing socialism favorably to freewill offerings as God’s remedy for the care of the poor.

  • bondservant1

    So-called “free will” ends where God’s plan (the one He’s had since the beginning) takes over. (Do we really believe anyone has ever opened their own eyes to truth? Isn’t that us saving ourselves?)

    As one man caused all to sin, one Man saves all. God’s plan is restoration of all. God’s judgment is always corrective, to restore us to Him. Jubilee returns all things to its rightful Owner.

  • Patrick Davis

    “Those who call themselves Christian are followers of one who was
    tortured and killed by a superpower supremely committed to its own
    security. The Roman governor Pilate condemned Jesus to torture and
    execution by acting in the interests of the Pax Romana. The Roman Empire
    could not tolerate a Galilean preacher claiming to be the King of the
    Jews. Rome called it insurrection and the penalty was crucifixion. So
    Jesus was tortured to death.”

    Ummm, not really.

    First of all it was the Jewish religious leaders (the Pharisees) that condemned Jesus, and called for his crucifixion. Pilate was unable to find anything to charge him with, and tried several times to release him, but the Jews called for his crucifixion. (John 18:28-19:16)

    As far as the rest, the Bible certainly isn’t very clear on the subject, and with the very death of Christ misrepresented in such a way as to further your agenda, it’s hard to take anything you have to say with any amount of seriousness. You also claim that those who “endorse torture in the name of security. But to do so is to renounce the Lordship of Jesus Christ” is simply not true in the slightest. The support of torture is at most a political stance. And unless you are saying that we are going to be judged based on our political affiliations, such statements only serve to promote fear and misinformation to gain a few extra “followers”.

    So unless you have some scripture to back up ANY of this, you are not really speaking any form of truth, and only trying to stir up trouble.

  • larrd

    Not at all, Rick. You have to change what folks say to make your points, and you do it so often you don’t even recognize it anymore.

    Pretty typical among Democrats.

  • Rick Smith

    Christians SHOULD BE DOORMATS… If we were, we might not think about or “need to” torture others. I know you will talk about the evil in the world and I know its there, but does fighting evil with evil ever really work?

    I think (as simply as i can put it) it goes something like this…
    You hurt me, I get angry and you and hurt you worse, then you want to hurt me worse (and the cycle continues)…


    You hurt me, I forgive you, you hurt me again and I forgive you, you hurt me again and I forgive you… (are we up to 70 times 7 yet?)… In my experience this is what circumvents the retaliation in almost every situation.

    Love, forgive, forgive again, give, apologize (even when you may not be wrong), accept, love and forgive some more and we will get past the “need” to torture people. I don’t recall one incidence of Jesus torturing anyone, in fact, every incidence of him doing anything was showing love and relieving others suffering and torture.

    I know this awesome preacher and man of God who keeps preaching for us as Christians to let go of our fear… This is more than relevant to this conversation. Let go of the fear, love your neighbor and if this doesn’t work I will personally help you and your family recover from whatever wrong “the enemy” has done to you.

    Peace and Love

  • Rick Smith

    Actually I don’t consider myself a Democrat…I would likely fall somewhere between Socialist and “Ultra Evil” on your political scale. 🙂

  • Rick Smith

    You keep dragging out the straw man but I’m still waiting for you to define for me what a straw man argument is… And just to point this out, you keep making sweeping generalizations about me, but you are probably right…(probably)

  • You cite a philosophical statement to justify lack of knowledge about God. Yet, God never says we can’t know Him or His will in the bible.
    “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever”

    He has revealed to us that He will not eternally torture people, despite what millions today believe.

  • larrd

    You’re once again trying to put words in my mouth.

    Pretty typical among your run of the mill Democrats.

  • Keep it pertinent to the topic.

  • Ray McCracken

    Thomas Aquinas was a Saint, for him God was not philosophical, he was in relationship with Holy Mystery. The secret of the mystery is: God is always greater. No matter how great we think him to be, God is always greater because God is GOD! In the most literal sense of the word he is unique, uncreated, infinite, totally other than we are. He surpasses and transcends all human concepts, considerations and expectations. He is beyond anything we could intellectualize or imagine. And that is why God will always be a scandal to many – because he cannot be comprehended by the rational, scientific, finite mind.

  • larrd

    To my mind, the topic seems to have become why you feel you’re better than a run of the mill Democrat, yet you spout the exact same stuff run of the mill Democrats always spout.

    Are you still trying to impress your sophomore humanities professor or something?

  • I know who Aquinas was. Even then, his statement is philosophical. Yours is too. Yet, like you said, God transcends all, even those statements. He is incomprehensible, if we try to understand His every detail, but there’s an incredible amount that we know about God because
    He chose to reveal it. The very fact you serve Him, is because He’s revealed some aspect of Himself to you. He revealed Himself through the prophets, through the Scriptures and ultimately through His Son.

    Heb. 1:1-3 (NET)
    “After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he created the world. The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence…”

    I never claimed to know everything about God and you cannot be serious when you say “He cannot be comprehended”. You comprehend many essential things about God as do I because He’s manifested, revealed Himself perfectly through His Son. By that you and I should know I don’t mean every single nuance and detail about God, but the essence of what He’s like, His love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness and even respect for human beings who are evil, who tortured Him, spit on Him and crucified Him.

    Another thing clearly revealed is that He does not torture people for ceaseless ages of time.

  • Rick Smith

    larrd, do your arguments go deeper than throwing words out like, “straw man” and “Democrat”? (I believe that this question is neither a straw man argument or Democratic in nature)

  • larrd

    When they need to. So far, you’ve just done the run of the mill Democrat straw man thing, though.

    Pretty typical.

  • Ray McCracken

    By “comprehend” I mean understanding God’s total essence, completely and fully understanding Divinity – “every single nuance and detail”. I think this is what Aquinas means by “comprehend God” someone who thinks he has the total understanding and an explanation of God based on fundamentalist interpretation of scriptures, their tradition, the prophets and their personal experiences.
    I agree God is mercy, love and forgiveness, torture is not possible for God. Also, I believe we are not punished for our sins, we are punished BY our sins. Peace.

  • Rick Smith

    So we’ve come down to your arguments are that I am “straw man” and a “pretty typical” “run of the mill liberal/Democrat”? If this is as deep as you can go I guess we are threw with this discussion. 🙁

    BTW, I really don’t associate with any party at this point in my life so I guess it is OK if you continue to talk about my liberal ideas, though they are probably not “run of the mill”.

    I used to be a “run of the mill” Republican at one point in my life. Since then I have received an education and I am now able to evaluate things for myself rather than what media like Fox News or Rush Limbaugh would feed me. As a Republican i would have been spouting off something about those stupid “run of the mill liberals”. But now I prefer to consult what I believe Jesus would do since as a human I can’t be trusted to make big decisions.

    Here is a challenge for you… Tell me which of the “run of the mill Republican” ideals hold up to what Jesus would do? I am sure there a several, so I am not implying there are none. I just want to hear it from you. Oh, wait…I guess I made another assumption about you. You haven’t stated your position as to whether or not you are a Christian. If not, i apologize for trying to hold you to a “What would Jesus do?” standard.

  • Rick Smith

    Sorry about this straying off topic Brian, I probably haven’t helped with staying on topic.

    This is a great article, thank you for writing it.

  • larrd

    You don’t appear to have any liberal ideas, Rick. More like typical Democrat stuff, which is about as far from liberal as you can get these days.

    Most Democrats claim they used to be Republican, or come from Repub families. Then they became “educated.” It’s pretty laughable.

    The “what would Jesus do” thing is pretty laughable as well. You should get one of those colorful wrist band with the initials.

  • Rick Smith

    larrd, we have hijacked Brian’s blog and this is going nowhere..slowly. We can either continue this conversation elsewhere, stop talking or you could just say that my way is the better way. Whichever you choose, just let me know. I’m easy to find.

  • larrd

    Oh, dear, I think you’re right and Brian may be upset with us, Rick. He may even decree that we can’t be Christians.

    Of the options you’ve outlined, what do you think Jesus would do?

  • Rick Smith

    I think he would be loving and respectful… I will see you around the web, thanks for the conversation.

  • larrd

    I’m sure he’d say we can’t be Christians in a loving and respectful way.

    I wonder if Jesus would ever write “I will see you around the web.” That would seem pretty damning coming from Him, don’t you think?

  • I see implied in your response that you don’t see someone being judged by their political stances, is that fair?

    Would you detach your personal religious views of right and wrong from you political views? Some sort of religious political split. That faith and belief in God have no impact on ones politics?

    I struggle to see how someone could claim to follow the teachings of Jesus and also support political agendas that are in contrast to His teaching. The idea of loveing the poor the widow and the orphan but vote to continue to oppress those very people and that not be a problem.

  • I’m curious, if the sword is the work of the state why would you be the one perpetrating the violence? At what point do we get to stop being the church and get to be the state, with the church called to actively love our enemies and the state to use the sword on God’s behalf?

  • Patrick Davis

    I may have not made myself clear in this regard. I believe our religious views very much influence our political views. How could they not? However, I do not believe for one instant that when Judgement comes, whether we voted Democrat or Republicain is going to have ANY bearing. We will be judged according to our faith, our actions, and whether or not we believed (and thus lived our lives in relationship with) The Lord Jesus Christ.
    Certainly one could have a relationship with The Lord, and still vote Democrat. Does this mean they are not a Christian? And thats the point I was trying to make with that implication.
    The problem comes when we are trying to determine which party does that best. Do the Republicans do more to take care of the poor and downtrodden? Or do the Democrats? There are many people who are strong believers, and followers of Christ and are convinced that Jesus is more Republican, because it fits their perception. In all actuality Jesus is more of a Socialist than anything, and is a Monarchist. He is THE King after all.
    But my whole point of my comment was to point out the misinformation regarding the torture of Christ. Jesus was not punished at the instance of the Roman government because they saw him as a threat. And going by Pilates reaction to Jesus claiming to be king, he didn’t seem to care one way or another. He asked the Jews what should be done with THEIR king, but they responded that they had no king but Ceaser. And still Pilate sought to release him, but gave into the crowd, the Pharisees, and crucified him at THEIR demand. Saying that Rome saw Jesus as king a threat to Rome is simply not true. It’s very clearly laid out in scripture (refrences in original comment) that Pilate wanted nothing to do with Jesus, and washed his hands clean of the matter.

  • Ok, lets say that your perspective on the Romans and their view of Jesus is correct and Brian’s presentation is incorrect. Does that have a meaningful impact on the major point of the post that you cannot be Christ like and support torture?

  • Patrick Davis

    I believe it does. Brians’s point is that being Christlike is choosing suffering over security. And that sometimes in choosing security means choosing torture. He uses the Romans and Jesus as an example of that. That the Romans, in the name of security, tortured and crucified Jesus. However, that illustration is flawed. As I’ve pointed out by referrencing scripture that the Romans did not torture and crucify Jesus out of some sense of security concerning Pax Romana. The Romans did agree to go through the torture and crucifition at the request of the Jews. The fact that Pilate washed his hands of the matter, his wife having a dream that it would be VERY bad if he did punish Jesus, his attempts to release Jesus after discovering no reason to hold him let alone punish him. The Jews were unwilling to do it themselves in order to remain “clean” for The Passover.
    Therefore, with such a false representation of the Death of Christ, and that illustration being important to his premise, its difficult to take his point of the article as having any merit.

  • Patrick Davis

    Also, what about Jesus’ allowance, and God’s provision for Stoning? ( Stoning is execution by torture. Jesus, when confronted with the woman caught in adultry, and asked what should be done, he responded that who ever was without sin should throw the first stone. (John 8:1-6).
    If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then those attitudes and provisions still remain. Jesus didn;t come to abolish the law, but to fullfil the law.

  • Sure then anyone without sin can choose to torture someone. Since none is without sin we can leave that part. It’s also an easy argument to make that stoning is sin under the new covenant that Jesus set out. To show that no one is righteous enough to judge and so our only response is love and grace. There is no arugment that torture is an expression of love and grace and ultimately that Brian’s point here.

    You feel that the culprit is the Jewish community and not the Romans, that’s a fair and reasonable interpretation. That said Brian’s conclusion is still sound. Change the Romans to the Jews and Jesus was still tortured for the security of a system and state. And at no time did He make any statements that his followers should respond in kind or do anything beyond love their enemies.

    You may disagree with how he got there, you may disagree with his views on Jesus death but which is worse 1) to misrepresent the death of Jesus as Roman not Jewish 2) to say that there are times we don’t have to love our enemies or neighbor?

    To support or say there are times for torture is to to say that the call Jesus had on for his followers had edges and those to whom we don’t extend his love and grace. That’s not the story or call of Jesus. Jesus calls us clearly to other centered, self sacrificial love. If the action isn’t loving it’s not what Jesus wants from us. “So unless you have some scripture to back up ANY of this, you are not
    really speaking any form of truth, and only trying to stir up trouble.”

  • Patrick Davis

    Yes, I agree that with the New Covenant we are command to love each other. However, is it love to let those who would kill and destroy lives continue to do so without trying to stop them? Or is it love to do what is needed to catch and stop other such people from doing the same thing preemptively? Is it love to cause someone discomfort in order to prevent or stop certain behavior? Many parents would say yes. That giving a child a spanking (causing pain/discomfort which can be considered a form of torture) is a Godly thing to do. This is done to correct and punish wrong behavior, and to prevent more such actions. So do we say that spanking your child, sending them to their room without dinner, grounding them (not allowing them out of their room) is a good kind of torture, but doing the same and similar things to people who have commited murder, treason, destruction in order to prevent more things like that happening is a bad kind of torture? Whats the difference? Where do we draw the line?
    As far as the Romans and Jews and which is worse.
    Misrepresenting the Romans causes many other issues, the least of which is the WHY Jesus died. Did He die as a political statement by the Romans, or was He given up by His own people out of fear of what He represented? Either way He HAD to die. But His rejection by the Jews not only fulfilled scripture, but became the sacrifice that was needed to atone sin. If by the Romans, then He wouldn’t become that sacrifice by the Jews (specifially the priests), scripture would not have been fulfilled, and like Pilates wife said “Bad things will happen” (Matt. 27:19, paraphrased.) Of course none of this is saying that we don’t need to love our enemies and neighbors, which of course we do.
    However, such an innacurate portrayal of such an event also casts doubt on much of what else he is saying. Although we know that we should love each other, but supporting such things is a renounciation of Jesus? The implication that support of such things is actually following an Antichrist? That doing so will result in you going to hell? Is that also love? Is it loving someone to tell them that they are doomed to hell for eternity because they believe something you don’t? Is it love to make such absolute statements that the very notion is antichrist, and in the acceptance of that, you are in fact believing and following demons? Although these are things I cannot judge, only God can judge his heart, but to me it doesn’t sound very loving…

  • I find it interesting that Brian’s absolute statements bother you but you’re very comfortable making your own.

    To equate torture and spanking is silly. While I’d say any kind of physical reprimand is ridiculous it’s a discussion for a differnt time. But to say that sending someone to their room and the use of torture are the same is ridiculous.

    To say that we cannot as Christains call out things that are not Christ like (or Antirchrist) is a dangerous road to start down for anyone. This issue of this post is far less about will you end up in heaven and far more about are you actively following Christ. He never said people won’t be going to heaven over this but to choose a stance that is in contrast to Jesus’ example and call is AntiChrist.

    The bulk of your (what I’m guessing are rhetorical) questions seem to boil down to, “is it loving to tell someone that they may be doing something wrong”.

    Yeah it is.

    But I am ready to move to your side when you can share with me how torture ( I looked at a bunch of definitions the major theme was the infliction of extreme, excruciating, or severe pain) is loving towards the person you are torturing. Or more simply, when would Jesus himself torture a person? I can’t find anything in the bible that shows he would ever, even like you noted before in scripture when he had the right to.

    If Jesus wouldn’t do it, us doing it is to act in a way that is against or anti Christ.

  • Patrick Davis

    I don’t mind absolutes, in fact I like them, however when absolutes condemn someone who believes differently is the problem I have.

    Such parallels is not silly at all. Websters defines torture as: 1) the act of causing severe physical pain as a form of punishment or as a way to force someone to do or say something. 2) something that causes mental or physical suffering : a very painful or unpleasant experience. However the problem lies in what is severe physical pain? What may be severe to one person, can be midly uncomfortable to another. For example. There was a study by 2 men to see what giving birth felt like. They were hooked up to a machine in order to simulate contractions. The men were writhing and screaming in agony. The highest setting the machine was set to by the doctor was level 2. The doctor said that birth and the preceding contractions typically reached a level 7 on the machine. The parallel of sending a child to their bedroom without a meal, is exactly the same as confining a prisoner without a meal. Both cause mental and physical suffering and unpleasant experiences. While locking up a prisoner without a meal is considered by many to be “cruel and inhumane” doing so to a child is considered a valid form of punishment. As far as spanking a child. You are inflicting physical pain upon that child, to a child that pain can be considered severe. As each individual has a different perception of pain, and a different pain tolerence.

    I agree with not continuing a discussion on the merits or lack thereof of physical reprimands, but my point in drawing the parallels is to illustrate that the term “torture” can be applied correctly in a number of situations.

    There is a difference between telling someone they are wrong, and condemning them, versus telling someone they are wrong and correcting them. One paticular group is VERY anti a certain group of people with a paticular lifestyle. Yelling at them and telling them they are going to hell, and that God hates them, most certainly isn’t love. But they are pointing out they are doing wrong, which of course is the right thing to do. The difference is HOW they are doing it.

    And for the last bit. That depends. Are you trying to gather information to protect the lives of others? Or are you doing it just to cause pain? The first can be considered an act of love; protecting those you love, and people in general. The latter most certainly isn’t. It’s cruel and wrong and not out of a sense of love, but of hate. But not ALL torture falls into the latter scenario. However, I do believe that Jesus WOULD both allow, and cause a individual physical pain, in order that others may be spared. I look at the story of the blind man (John 9:2-3) “And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
    This implies that either the man was born blind by God’s decision so that he could be healed and others may believe, that God allowed him to be blinded by an act of the enemy for the same result.

  • By and large I don’t disagree with most of what your saying but we must be reading different posts here. This post doesn’t condemn anyone to hell because they believe different. To elevate any one issue like that would be probably unwise, but I haven’t thought a great deal about it so maybe there is one or two but none that come to mind off the top of my head. But again Brian even made an edit to say that he’s not talking about being A christian but rather if it is Christ like.

    To use claim that going to ones room is torture is to belittle the experience of those who have been tortured. While experience of pain and the threshold of “sever” will be different to place them on the same spectrum and then say that are to be considered the same because they are on the same spectrum is a misrepresentation. I think you would struggle to find situations where sending a child to their room would be considered akin to torture. Perhaps there is a threshold where after a time the experience becomes torturous, but again far before that threshold it would have stopped being loving.

    Your last paragraph is honestly a little troubling. We all have different views of who Jesus was but I honestly find it troubling that you see Jesus as one who woudl physically harm people. I can’t find any scripture that woudl support that. The verse you use gets to the heart of why bad things happen to people. Again if your view is that God causes them then I suppose torture is right up His ally too.

    God’s allowance of bad things to happen to us, is ultimately a display of love. It’s His choice to allow our free will to play out. That free will allows for sin to have power in our world and us to be damaged by it. If God didn’t allow for bad things to happen at all He would have to override out free will and would then be acting unloving towards us, which He is not able to do. God is love and can act no other way.

    And that’s why it’s trouble to think of Jesus causing physical harm. While you may be able to construe it as love towards those you are trying to help, it’s certainly not love towards the one you are harming. To do that says “those close to me are more important than my enemy” or “those in my group are more important than others” and from there we get religious wars, murder of those who disagree, because it’s to save and protect those we’ve deemed to be on the inside or worthy of saving. This is done at the expense of those who aren’t worthy, our enemy. Can’t see Jesus taking part in that, especially with such a clear call to love our enemy.

    I’m confident you cannot find anyone who has ever been tortured and feels it was an act of love by the other party. That’s why Jesus would never and why Christians should never, lest we choose to act un-christ like or antichrist.

  • Patrick Davis

    Now just to comment on the Jesus causing physical harm. (John 2:15) “And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” and also in Mark 11:12-14 “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.” And then in Mark 11:20 “In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots”
    Also look at the plagues of Egypt, the plagues brought on his own people, (Num. 25)
    Of course the plagues were a result of sin and to show his power, but it also shows that God is capable and willing to bring physical harm to people.
    Now about the fig tree. Its clear that figs were not in season so there was nonreason to expect them. Yet Jesus still cursed it. Now I am sure there are many lessons to be learned there, but at the face of things Jesus cursed a tree because He was in a bad mood. Now im not saying that a tree has any more value, or is on any level of a human life, but it also shows a very different Jesus then the peaceful hippy that American culture has portrayed him.

  • How many money changers did Jesus water board?

  • Patrick Davis

    How many did he beat with a whip?

  • None. The whip was to drive animals.

  • Patrick Davis

    Ummm….but the text says differently. In verse 15, it says he made a whip and drove them, referring to the money changers, along with the sheep and oxen out of the temple.

    While I do understand, and can see your point, I don’t agree with it. Under your premise, those who do us harm are to go unpunished, “Turn the other cheek”. And if its not Christlike to defend ones self, family, and fellow countrymen, and to take steps to protect them from future harm, then we are commanded to be victims. The Bible is clear on many occasions that we are not called to be victims but victors.

  • You seem about as set in your belief that Jesus is all for water boarding, sexually assaulting, degrading and humiliating people (torture) as I am that there is no way he would ever, under any circumstance see that as appropriate. So it strikes me we will probably just run in circles on this, if we can run in more circles than we already have.

    But I do wonder, if the scripture that shows in the life of Jesus that he would support that type of behaviour is cursing a tree and driving livestock, isn’t more about a Jesus you’ve been taught/desire than it is of the one who is portrayed in the bible. This started with your feeling that Brian was making a wild misrepresentation of scripture and because of that he couldn’t be trusted. If you look at the story of Jesus and the life he lived, it was a life of sacrifice. It was a life of other centred radical love. So to say that the scripture and life of Jesus can be used to support rape, starvation, suffocating or any other form of torture gives me new insight into why you thought Brian may be not be worth trusting. When someone goes to such lengthens to prove a point as to say cursing a tree is a reasonable point to bring to a discussion on torture, you’re looking for reasons not looking for truth. There is an image of God your trying to protect or reconcile, rather than see the life we are called to laid out in the life of Jesus.

    This brutal, warrior Jesus seeing some lives a valuable and others worthy of degradation and humiliation isn’t there. He died for all. He could have come and slayed the evil and tortured those who deserve it but He choose to give of Him self for all, righteous and unrighteous and then calls us to do the same. Not to pick who we love and who we justify to ourselves to torture.

    So in absolutely terms, Jesus would not support, conduct or approve of torture of anyone. Jesus died rather than defend His rights, privilege or position. If you want to be a follower of Christ, He’s asking the same.

    Call it hippy, call it dumb, whatever but at least it’s biblically sound and more importantly in line with the life of Christ.

  • “The Bible is clear on many occasions that we are not called to be victims but victors.”

    We are victors through co-suffering love, not apart from it.
    We are victors in the way of Christ, not the way of Caesar.
    We are victors when we take up our cross and follow our crucified Savior.
    We are victors when we follow the slain Lamb, not the murderous Beast.
    We are victors when we lay down our lives, not take the lives of our enemies.
    We are victors when we imitate our Lord and pray, “Forgive them”…
    As did Stephen…and all the company of martyrs.
    We are not victors when we justify torturing our enemies.
    When we do that, we capitulate to the way of Caesar, CIA, Satan.

  • Patrick Davis

    I am not saying that Jesus would take part in these things, what I am saying, and using the passages I have, to show that Jesus is a very different person then what popular church culture has taught us. The Lord doesnt fit into our preconceived notions of who He is, and what He is about. I am trying to present a different view of God, as presented in the Bible.

    We seem to forget the the same God that commanded genocide, commanded His people to viciously kill entire cultures, and show no mercy is the same God who commands us to love each other, and to lay down our lives for each other. In modern American church culture its more comfortable to think of God as a kind old uncle, and ignore that He is a jealous and vengeful God capable of striking us down and inflicting horrible things upon us, just like He did to Job.

    I am not trying to avoid the truth, I am trying to show the WHOLE truth and not just those parts that appeal to our sensibilities.

  • Patrick Davis

    True, but does that mean we roll over and let those who would kill steal and destroy just do what they wish? Is not The Lord a man of war? (EX. 15:3) And are we not called to be like Him? Then we are also called to be men of war, not only against flesh and blood but against the spiritual forces against us. And if so, then letting our enemies walk over us is also against the calling to be Christlike.

    So then it would seem that this is more then just an issue about torture, and torture is only a symptom of something else going on. Its all well amd good to say “stop torture, its wrong!” But to do nothing about the causes of the symptoms not only doesnt fix the problem, but is an acceptance of the powers that encourage such things.

  • “Is not The Lord a man of war? (EX. 15:3) And are we not called to be like Him?”

    This may be the most illuminating point. No we aren’t. We aren’t called to judge and punish. We are called to follow the example set out in the life of Jesus, be his disciple. While God may hold the power to judge and enact that in a lot of different ways, we are not empowered to.

    There is still a great deal of debate over how we are to read and understand the Old Testament because we so poorly understand that cultural context and even cultural manner in which we should wrestle with it. Jesus himself constantly reinterprets and changes the meaning of the old testament, which is common among Jewish readers. Not us Christians though so we need to be careful that we don’t cling to single verses as though every verse is created equal. If we do then genocides and rape are just as fair a response as loving our neighbour. To often as Brian has pointed out on twitter we are Biblicists rather than Christians. The life of Christ is clear on our response to oppression and evil forces, and violence isn’t one of the answers.

    To make it an either or is also untrue. An example. A bomb is placed in your home. Only one person knows where it is. It is assured you will not find it and thus not save your family. Do you torture the only person who knows? Many would say yes because it’s the only option. But when you find out that the only person who knows is your son, all of the sudden there becomes a sense that there must be another way. There must be some other option then, because you see your son as valuable, worth saving and not an enemy. It’s the faceless enemy we see justice in abusing more often than not.

    We aren’t called to be Gods, but to follow the life of Jesus. We are called to love and that call to love is dangerous. Many have died because they choose to follow Jesus and not the way of this world. They choose to love and not take what rights they felt they had (to safety, security, healthy, money, etc). They like Christ laid down all of their rights and choose to see the other as valuable and worthy of love no matter the personal cost.

    “True, but does that mean we roll over and let those who would kill steal and destroy just do what they wish?”

    But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

    That’s our response if we want to follow Christ. Anything else is unchrist like.

  • I was talking with my brother about it on the weekend. He said it’s great and it would really resonate with me. So it’s on the list, but I do admittedly move through that list rather slow.

    But thank you for your voice and your writing. I enjoy your post and tweets a great deal.

  • Patrick Davis

    So if we are to love our enemies, (and I am not saying we aren’t) and do good for those that do us harm, then we are commanded to lay down and let the enemy have his way with us. It’s a very pacifistic attitude. And if this is indeed the case, then we are also supposed to be like sheep led to the slaughter, as that is the example of Christ. That is being Christlike. Oh sure, we can say “stop! thats wrong!” All day long, but if we are not taking any sort of action, then we are just as guilty as those actually commiting those crimes against us. But this pacifistic attitude prevents us from taking action, because “if Christ didn’t then neither should we.” So in your scenario, we should just let the bomb go off and kill our family, because anything else is not Christlike. We then become like the servant to whom the lord gave a sum of money, and hid it away instead of using it. In the end, all that was given him was taken away, and the servant punished and cast out. I don’t believe for one moment that that is what Christ had in mind when He said to be like Him. There are times when we are called to fight, called to stand up and take action, called to defend and protect our land (rights, freedoms, way of life) but letting the enemey take them, and oppress us certainly isn’t one of those things.

  • If all you can see as options are do nothing and violence, then we live in very different worlds. It’s a false dichotomy. Pasifism isn’t do nothing, it’s do something other than violence.

    It’s sad that the only options you would see in the scenario about is torture your child or do nothing. Maybe you could talk to him? Share hope and love and grace and implore him to remember who his is, his value and the love his family has for him?Nope, the options are violence or do nothing.

    It’s that false dicotomey that continues to proliferate violent response to violence, which creates more violence. It’s probably not that hard to get a young person on board with being violent towards the US or Christians when you can start the conversation with “Do you want to avenge your murdered family?” because they were killed as by products of a war they weren’t’ a part of. Or “want to get back at the people who tortured your entire family?” That’s not a hard sell.

    “There are times when we are called to fight, called to stand up and take
    action, called to defend and protect our land (rights, freedoms, way of
    life)” yes there are. And we fight by ” love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

    There no “love your enemy, except when they…” verse. There’s no exceptions in the call to love. At least not if we want to be Christ like.

  • Patrick Davis

    So your saying it’s a grey area? I don’t believe in grey areas. The Lord I read of in the Bible is also very black and white. The Lord I have come to know and serve is also very black and white. “Do these things and be blessed, don’t do things and be cursed.” (Deut. 28). “I wish you were either hold or cold” (Rev. 3:15-16) I agree there is no “love except…” clause. I am not saying there is. Yes, there are others ways to approach a situation, however if those ways fail, then what? Going back to your scenario, my son planted a bomb in my house, and has trapped my wife and 2 daughters inside. The bomb is set to go off at a certain time. Now I have the option of taking the time to try to reason with him, show him that he is loved, help him to remember who he is, etc. Or giving up my wife and other children to avoid hurting my son. Or do what I need to do to get the information I need to save my family? (Although in this paticular scenario if my son is trying to kill his family by planting a bomb we have much bigger issues then whether or not I should beat his a$$, but thats another discussion for another time)
    So if you are dealing with a enemy bent on your total and utter destruction, cannot be reasoned with, is not afraid to die, and strongly believes that his course is the correct way to go, how do you stop them? You capture one and he is not going to try to listen to reason, because in his mind and heart, you are the very enemies of God. You will not be able to bring him to “the light”, and make him repentant for his actions. But the problem is, is that there are hundreds of thousands of people just like him, and are working together to see you brought down. So you can try to have a “kumbya” therapy session with him, and hope he tells you what his compatriots have planned, or you can take a different approach and forcibly get the information you need from him in order to save thousands, if not millions of lives.

  • You say “I agree there is no “love except…” clause.” but then move right to “then what?”

    There’s your personal love except clause. Except when you don’t get the response you think you need or want. Except when it doesn’t meet your expectations.

    There’s a step to your question about an enemy bent on total utter destruction that you’ve gladly omitted. Why have you placed yourself in a position that may require you to be violent? There are many who would argue that Christians shouldn’t take position as part of the state so they are no in the position you are describing. And how is capturing someone showing love? Seems to me you’ve done a lot of work that wasn’t very loving and placed yourself job that doesn’t allow you to love and complete your role.

    If the situation weren’t about violence and but perhaps talking to a sex worker about marriage and vows of commitment. It would seem odd for the sex worker to say “of course you must maintain those vows but this is my job so what other choice do I have?” Many would say that working as a sex worker is a difficult work choice to reconcile with the life Jesus calls us to. So is it with those who are asked and required in their job to be violent. Perhaps both shoudl be avoided by Christians.

    The real issue is you’ve created for yourself absolutes that build a narrative that supports your view of positive violence, despite it going in direct contrast to the statements and calls of Jesus. Can God create a bolder so big he can’t lift it? It’s word games.

    And though you said “I am not saying that Jesus would take part in these things…” when I talked about Jesus water boarding, sexually assaulting, or humiliating, then go on to justify when and why you can or should. It’s this very dichotomy of saying “Jesus never would but he’s ok if I do in this situation” that creates the mess. It’s saying “there is not except clause” then moving right into the exceptions.

    The issue is you’ve been taught and desire a violent God and to be validate in violence despite the teachings and life of Jesus who we are called to follow. You want black and white, there it is. Jesus said love your enemy. No exceptions. You follow Christ as a Christian.

    does that mean I wouldn’t be violent in the situation you describe? I don’t know, I hope i wouldn’t but I don’t know. I hope I’ve learned to see Jesus in people and trust his ways enough. If I was violent would I don’t see it precluding me from heaven anymore than any singular other sin.

    but to say it’s justified and Godly is about as far off from Jesus as one can get because it is so devoid of love.

    With that I’ll leave the last word to you. We’ve taken up more than enough space in Brian’s comment section.

  • Patrick Davis

    I believe it is possible to still love your enemies, and still do what is needed to do to protect others. Your saying that one has placed themselves in a situation where violence may be required. However, the major flaw with this, is that it places the blame on the victim of the violence. Like saying a beaten wife is the one at fault because she is staying with an abusive husband.

    One can certainly be a part of the state, and still follow their moral and religious obligations to love their enemies. Being a Christian should never preclude anyone from serving their country and laying down their lives for others. Does that mean we may be required to kill? yes. Does killing in battle violate Gods commandment of “You shall not murder.”? I don’t believe so. Yes there are those who would say otherwise.
    Is it better to play it safe, and not cause any trouble, and not be in situations where we may have to harm someone? Or is it better to take a stand, and do what is required and needed to protect the lives of others even if it means someone may get hurt? In the former, is a life of fear. Fear of hurting someone, fear that we may be doing something against the teachings of Christ, fear that we ourselves may be hurt. In the latter, it’s faith. Faith that what I may have to do is right and just, even if it means hurting someone. I would much rather stand before The Lord on the last day, and answer to my actions that have hurt someone, then stand before Him and say I did nothing because I was afraid. Which one follows the teachings and life of Christ better?
    The issue with the sex worker. While it is better for her to stop working in such a job, if she was in a position where her actions are protecting not only her life, but the lives of others (say a sex slave where her entire family will die if she doesn’t) can she be held accountable? While she does believe in the sanctity of her vows, but is in a position where she cannot do anything about it without people dying, there isn’t much she can do. Would she be then condemned by Christ? Would a rape victim who was married be considered unfaithful?
    I am not a violent person at all, and will take steps to avoid it. However, if I need to, I am not going to shy away from it. If someone came to kill or hurt me or mine I assure you that person is going to be in a world of hurt.
    While I have immensly enjoyed this discussion, you are right. We have taken up alot of space. However, I hope that someone at least takes something from my point of view.

  • bondservant

    Fortunately, God’s Word doesn’t teach eternal punishment.
    Unfortunately, most of the church does teach it.

  • Maybe not splitting hairs. The problem is when they become badguys in our mind we begin to treat them as non human or less valuable and thats a barrier to true peace which is mutual understanding.

  • The ideal of church and state is seldom the practice. When the church blesses torture we bless the injustice of the state. If we don’t partisipate and instead activly work against and condenm that system then we are separate.

  • larrd

    How about when the church blesses abortion? Or the church blesses homosexual marriage? Or the church blesses diversity training?

    Is that kind of marriage between church and state okay with you, or should the church be working actively against the state on these issues to gain separation?

  • The church’s voice on public issues is important. Thats the meaning of political, it means public. If the church has a public opinion about abortion, homosexual marriage or diversity that doesn’t make them for or against the state it makes them publicly active and engaged.

    And every church should be publicly active because Jesus was very publicly active. If we are his body, then we’d better do what the head is telling us to do.

  • larrd

    You seem to be using two different yardsticks, depending on your personal feelings about the particular issue.

    That doesn’t surprise me, somehow.

    Jesus didn’t speak out much at all in regard to politics, as far as I can remember.

  • I’m not sure if you’re serious about understanding one another or if your just looking for a fight? You can check this ( out if you want to understand what I’m talking about but if not I don’t think you care about understanding my perspective and I’m not interested in arguing…

  • larrd

    I understand you very clearly, Darnell. If a christian disagrees with you politically, you claim separation of church and state should preclude him from political activism. If a christian agrees with you politically, you claim that Jesus was a political activist so that person be active, too.

  • No, that’s not really what I meant.

  • larrd

    It is precisely what your cumulative statements add up to.

  • S Ponders

    There is no such thing as eternal punishment- that is a dogma. In the actual Bible evil spirits are here until the last day when they are thrown into the lake of fire which destroys the spirit eternally into nothing.